You might recognise Trevor Noah as the South African comedian who took over as the host of The Daily Show.Trevor’s way of dealing with subjects like Brexit and Donald Trump’s controversial behaviour as president in a funny, but at the same time serious way, was appointed as one of the main reasons for the now international success of the show among millennials. Time magazine actually called Noah one of the next generation of leaders.
But here is something you might not know about Trevor – he was not supposed to exist. He was Born a Crime – the name of his book about his childhood years in South Africa, were apartheid – or apart hate, as he calls – was still a reality.
Son of a Swiss white man and a Xhosa – one of South Africa’s many tribes – black woman, Trevor was born while the Immorality Act was still active. It stated that sexual relationships between white and black people were illegal.
As a result, Trevor spent most of his early years inside his grandmother’s house. He could not be seen with his father in public and her mother constantly had to pretend to be a maid taking care of him when they went for a walk at the park.
The relationship with his mother, Patricia, is the core topic of this book. Trevor starts: “For my mother. My first fan. Thank you for making me a man. Thank you for making me a man.” The woman who refused to live by the laws of the apartheid regime is Trevor’s inspiration in life and according to him the person responsibility for his sense humour due to her ability to laugh in the face of danger. Take as an example what Patricia said to a tearful Trevor after she survived being shoot in the head by her ex-partner: “Now you’re officially the best-looking person in the family.”
From a poor childhood as an ‘illegal’ mixed race kid to one of the most respected comedians in the world living in a ten-million-dollar penthouse in New York City, Trevor’s journey to achieve all this is remarkable. With this book, he was able with his unique and intelligent way of turning the serious into funny to tell his story of survival, hope and overcoming while growing up in one of the most effective and strict regimes of race segregation to ever exist.
By Daniela Palma