When Jon Stewart left The Daily Show I was bereft. I did so love his witty, honest commentary and I had never heard of this ‘Trevor Noah’ guy who would replace him. But I needn’t have worried. Noah quickly became one of my favourite ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ comedic commentators on current events and I wanted to know more about him.
In his book, through a series of vignettes, Noah shows his readers what life was like for him as a bi-racial child, who never felt like he really fit in, during post-Apartheid South Africa. He shares funny, loving, awkward and negative aspects of his childhood and many of his descriptions of the harsh realities of living in South Africa at that time will hit you like a punch in the gut. He was a self-proclaimed troublemaker as a child and teenager and some of his antics made me want to yell “What were you thinking?!?” He definitely liked to stir things up.
“The names of the kids with detention were announced at every assembly, and I was always one of them. Always. Every single day. It was a running joke. The prefect would say, ‘Detentions for today…’
and I would stand up automatically. It was like the Oscars and I was Meryl Streep.”
I respect his brutal honesty and I love, love, LOVED the special, yet often complicated, bond he had with his mother — the ultra-religious, determined, fierce, rebellious woman who wanted so much more for her son. Though a few of her parenting methods may surprise some, her deep love for her son is indisputable.
She’d say things to me like, “It’s you and me against the world.” I understood even from an early age that we weren’t just mother and son. We were a team.”
Growing up I learned about Apartheid in school but I know I only got the bare gist of it. In stark contrast, Noah brings a human side to the economic and social aspects of segregation, hatred and the blatant violation of human rights and basic decency that one group committed against so many others.
“Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared
language says ‘We’re the same.’ A language barrier says ‘We’re different.’ The architects of
apartheid understood this. Part of the effort to divide black people was to make sure
we were separated not just physically but by language as well…The great thing about
language is that you can just as easily use it to do the opposite: convince people
that they are the same. Racism teaches us that we are different because of the color of our skin.
But because racism is stupid, it’s easily tricked.”
“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”
Before reading this book, I was already a fan of Trevor Noah. I enjoyed his honest yet humorous approach to current events. He’s obviously a well-informed and funny guy but, after reading this book, I have a better understanding of where he comes from. Trevor Noah will make you laugh, cry and give you much to think about. The hype surrounding this book is duly given. I highly recommend this book.