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The True Story of a Black Youth's
Coming of Age in
Apartheid South Africa
I. Main Characters
A. Johannes (Mark) Mathabane--Kaffir Boy revolves around Johannes for the simple reason that he is the author of this book. Growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa was especially hard for Johannes. Johannes is very smart and graduated at the top of his class during his 13 years of schooling in apartheid South Africa. Johannes has had a lot of courage and perseverance throughout his life.
B. Jackson Mathabane--Johannes's father came from what is now the so-called independent homeland of the Vendas in the northwestern corner of the Transvaal. Johannes's father tried desperately to support his family, but in times of dire need, he backed away and depended on alcohol and abusive behaviors. Johannes's parents met and married in Alexandra on March 21, 1960.
C. Mother--Johannes's mother came from Gazankulu, the tribal reserve for the Tsongas in the Northeastern Transvaal. She is a very loving and devoted woman.
D. Johannes's siblings--Johannes has five sisters and one brother. His sisters names are Florah, Linah, Maria, Merriam, and Linah. George was his only brother.
E. Ellen Mabaso--Ellen was the mother of Johannes's mother. She was a humble woman who bore four children: Uncle Piet, Aunt Bush, Uncle Cheeks, and Johannes's mother. she had a statuesque figure--tall, limber, and ebony colored complete with tribal attire and multiple anklets, beads, earrings and bracelets. She could easily been a chief's daughter. Her friendly, brown eyes had the radiance of pristine pearls. She was the most beautiful woman Johannes had ever seen. She worked six days a week, from seven to five, mowing lawns, raking leaves, clipping hedges, watering plants, sweeping driveways, cleaning yards and pruning trees for white people.
F. Mr. Brown--Mr. Brown was one of the few people in the yard where the Mathabane's lived with the equivalent of a high-school education. He was a bus driver for PUTCO, but he also operated a moving service that transported people and goods between Alexandra and the tribal reserve of the Vendas.
G. Mrs. Smith--Mrs. Smith was Granny's employer. She was a short, slender woman with silver hair and slightly drooping shoulders. Granny was the Smith's gardener.
H. Clyde Smith--Clyde is the son of the woman who Granny works for. He is a young boy who is somewhat of a snob. As he grows, he learns to like Johannes and they become friends.
I. Scaramouche--Scaramouche was a self-employed painter. He was also one of the best tennis players among people of color in Johannesburg. An excellent coach, he was well connected in white and black tennis circles. He agreed to be Johannes' coach. Scaramouche turned out to not only be a great coach but a confidant and a surrogate father. He was firm and demanding but not authoritative and stifling. Instead of teaching Johannes his style of play, he let Johannes acquire his own way.
J. Tom--In June of 1972, Johannes met Tom. He is a lanky Zulu tennis player. He was very harmless-looking
K. Wilfred Horn--Wilfred married to Norma. He respects black people and owns a tennis ranch in Halfway House called Barretts. He was a German immigrant.
L. Arthur Ashe--Arthur Ashe was a Negro tennis player that Johannes admired very much. he condemned apartheid and did not pretend he was a white man erroneously painted black. Arthur always appeared calm, cool, and collected, even when he was surrounded in a sea of white faces.
M. David--David was the number two singles player on the tennis team. He was soft-spoken, politically sensitive, and a brilliant Zulu student whose love for the English language exhaled Johannes's. Johannes and David frequently exchanged books, did English homework together, read prose and poetry together, trained together, and sat on the same seat during tennis trips. David was the first close friend Johannes ever had. The only difference between David and Johannes was that David was a womanizer.
N. Helmut--Helmut was a short, brown-haired bespectacled white man with a barrel chest. He was always dressed in flashy clothing. He came from a small town in Germany and was working for a German company in South Africa only a few months before he met Johannes. He turned out to be a horrible tennis player, but good practice for Johannes.
O. Andre Zietsman--Andre was a blond-haired, well built, graceful man who proved to be a dear friend to Johannes. He was one of South
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Mark Mathabane, Tsonga people, Kaffir Boy, Kaffir, Arthur Ashe, apartheid south africa, johannesburg south africa, mowing lawns, high school education, statuesque figure, watering plants, pruning trees, raking leaves, sisters names, abusive behaviors, independent homeland, northwestern corner, five sisters, tsongas, transvaal, mr brown, driveways, coming of age, beautiful woman, mark mathabane
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