Lure of Freedom from Oppression

Andrew Heartquist and Daniel Martinez

Lure of Freedom

Freedom has been a huge motivator for many events throughout history, and it was no different in Kaffir Boy. Mark had to go through many horrific trials in order to gain freedom from the oppression of his father, South Africa, and the all out discrimination against blacks. In South Africa the Apartheid was a national segregation system that restricted black people's rights, and forcing them to live in poverty-stricken conditions. Everyday they had to put up with scavenging for their next meal and dealing with cruel law-enforcers. Anybody that was brave enough to protest the government's policies was killed or brutally beaten.

Connection to Kaffir Boy

Mark Mathabane's went through a lot in order to gain freedom from oppression. The oppression of his father, his country, and the discrimination against blacks there. He went through all of these trials in order to gain his freedom, making it to America. Throughout the book Mark had to grow up in a poverty-stricken lifestyle, learning to measure his life in days instead of years. However, the apartheid wasn't the only thing oppressing Mark, his father and his stubborn grasp on his tribal heritage was often an obstacle keeping Mark from achieving success.


Quote 1

-"And in that shack I was born, a few months before sixty-nine unarmed black protesters were massacred – many shot in the back as they fled for safety – by South African policemen during a peaceful demonstration." (Mathabane 11)

-Mark is born at an auspicious time in South African history. He witnesses the moment when the peaceful attempt for liberation is violently put to a stop. This shows how little the lives of black people in South Africa were valued.

Quote 2

-"That my mother's suffering at the hands of my father had led me to form an alliance with her to oppose his tyranny was true" (Mathabane 216)

-This quote is talking about the oppression his mother faces due to the differences that take place between her and Mark's father. In this case it shows how he decides to side with his mom on mostly anything except religion, as we later see in the book

Quote 3

-"Which life to come, liar," I said angrily. "Which life to come! There's only one life and this is it. And how are black people fairing in it? Are we enjoying it like white people are? Are we getting Rolls Royces, mansions, and swimming pools from it- or are we getting hunger, disease, poverty and suffering?" (Mathabane 221)

-Here he feels a lure to be pulled away from the oppression he feels as a result of the lifestyle he has. His lifestyle not only made him be unhappy with his life, but it also caused him to be uneasily persuaded to believe that there was another life following the one he had.

Quote 4

-"Even if I were to become the richest man in Alexandra, sir," I said with feeling, "I could never be happy without my freedom. The books I've read have taught me about different ways of life, about places where I can be free to think and feel the way I want, instead of the way apartheid wants, That's something no amount of money can buy." " (Mathabane 254)

-This quote summarizes everything he wants. Freedom. The books he has read have given him a new perspective on how his life should really be, to the point that having a free life is what he values more than anything. The feeling he shows while saying this also reflects the passion he has to experience this life, which was unimaginable to him, yet because of the hope he recieved from the books, he believed it was possible to have.

Quote 5

-And she would always throw away packages of meat because they were a day old. When I asked her to give them to me, she would reply: 'I buy you meat, girlie, is that not enough?' And the meat she was talking about was dog meat. " "They have everything," a jet-black woman said in a shrill voice, "and we have nothing." (Mathabane 87)

-This shows how the black people of South Africa have pretty much accepted the fact that they would never have as much as the white South Africans. They have lost their drive for freedom and resided to the fact that they will be in service of white people for the rest of their lives.


Do you believe that whites in South Africa could have been ignorant about the suffering that apartheid caused black families, as Mark has suggested? Why or why not?

Who are the victims of oppression in Kaffir Boy ? Are they made out to look that way?

How do the books Mark reads increase his thirst for freedom from oppression?

Is freedom taken for granted sometimes by our society?

What dictates if something is a simple restriction, or if is oppression?