BORN A CRIME: (what Trevor Noah wants you to know)

born a crim e2

We all know the saying, “when life hands your lemons, make lemonade.” What do we say when life hands us different colours? With ranging shades; some bright and others blue…

To answer this question is Trevor Noah’s colourful story in his book, Born a Crime.

Trevor Noah is host of the Daily show known for his open mindless humor as he comments on absurdities around the globe.

He describes a raw account of life in one of the most cruel social constructs in the history we know today, an account in an Apartheid society. Trevor Noah tells us all this in a rather sleek, yet emotional tone. (The audio book is a great way to get into this!)

Through Noah’s eyes, we see the life of a boy; born to a white Swiss-German man and a black Xhosa woman. A boy born with the face of two colours, which we come to learn, has been made an abomination in his society. He describes snapshots from his life where he is forced to stay indoors and make friends with characters in books and to talk to imaginary friends. His mother employed all sorts of incidental measures to hide him away from the wrath of the law; because it was a clearly black, white, and not a coloured affair. In one incident, his curiosity was aroused when he heard gunshots and screams as he played at his grandmother house. (👈🏾No spoilers here…I’ll let you read the book.)

He then describes how his mother also denied knowing him and threw him out of the bus. His narration is an interesting account that spells out mischief, unbridled confidence, and candid jokes.

For example, there was the incident when he pissed right before his grandmother and prayers were held to cast out these “perceived evil spirits” or when he ate mopane worms which were described as a meal for the poorest of people. He also describes the means he used to make ends meet from learning how to disc jockey at gigs in a shanty town of Alexandra also known as Gomorrah for the wildest parties to heading a team with ‘killer’ dancers. He also asserts that he learnt how to deal with people by speaking as they spoke.

“If you spoke to me in Zulu, I replied to you in Zulu. If you spoke to me Tswana replied to you in Tswana. Maybe I didn’t look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.”

He also asserts that he learnt how to deal with people by speaking as they spoke.

Noah lets us know how his mother, a staunch religious woman instilled in him the reverence of God, but ‘stubborn’ Trevor refused to acknowledge this until she survived the gun shot by a whisker. That’s one miracle Trevor writes about with a profound love.

My thoughts:

Every African millennial should get his/her hands on this book. It’s filled with humour and a mind sobering account of a racially biased society on the African continent.


Changing the narrative. Telling my African story.


pic born a crime
(Credits: Patsy Mugabi)

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