Book Review: Born a Crime

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime tells the autobiographical story of Noah’s childhood and upbringing through apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. This novel was highly recommended and after almost a year of putting it off, I finally decided to read it.

Trevor Noah uses humour to portray the hardships and dangers of being a mixed-race child in apartheid South Africa. The title Born a Crime was the literal description of his state of being in South Africa, as it was a crime for a white man and a black woman to produce a child. He starts the novel by using humour to distract the audience from the dark themes of potential rape and murder when retelling a story of the time he had to jump out of a moving car with his mother and baby brother.

Trevor Noah attempts to tell his story in chronological order but fails to do so as we are given titbits of information before we arrive to it and are introduced to characters before formally being introduced to them. The structure confused me as I sometimes had to go back in order to move forward with full understanding.

Even though I would not call Trevor Noah a writer, I do think that he is a compelling storyteller (which is what makes him such a good comedian). Although I was left with many unanswered questions by the end of the novel, I was impressed by the story that was told.

Although Trevor Noah attempts to be the protagonist of the story, any attentive reader will know that the true protagonist is in fact Patricia Noah, Trevor Noah’s mum. Not only are we met with a powerful, humorous, brave and faithful woman, but we are given glimpses of her past and all she had to overcome to be the mother of a half white son in a country that made his existence a crime. Throughout the whole novel, my interest in the story was piqued at the mention of Patricia and her exploits in the tale. I do hope that we one day get a prequel to Born a Crime about Patricia’s life, one with the potential title of Birthed a Crime perhaps?

Overall, I will rate this novel a 3.5 out of 5 stars as I did enjoy various aspects of it and was moved by the humour that Trevor used to tell his story.


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Thank you for reading.

Krio

I recently signed up to Krio language lessons. For those of you who do not know what Krio is, it is a language spoken in Sierra Leone. The Krio language originated from Creole in the 18th century, when freed slaves were could return to Africa to a place called Freetown (capital of Sierra Leone). Since then, the language has been adapted and transformed into what it is today. Sierra Leonian Krio is not only an amalgamation of English, French and Portuguese, but also includes some of the tribal languages of Sierra Leone such as Mende and Temne.

Although I am a proficient (if not fluent) speaker of the language, I have zero knowledge of how to write and read in Krio. Learning to understand my mother tongue in the written format has been an absolute pleasure. Although I was unfamiliar with the Krio alphabet, seeing it on a page has felt like a homecoming, it was as if the language was always there inside of me, waiting for a teacher to draw it out.

I am excited for next week’s lesson and I cannot wait to master the language and begin to write my very own Krio poem.


Thank you for reading.

Water

And there it was I thought. I sat on the edge of the boat looking out into the place where I drowned. The place of nightmares. The place that had kept me shaking throughout the night screaming out “water!” 


It had been a great day, my third day in the beautiful Island of St Lucia. The day that I was finally going to snorkel. Snorkelling had been a huge dream of mine; one I was eager to fulfil on this trip.  

I sat on the boat in my swimming suit, looking out at the beautiful sea, eager to jump right in. I half listened as the instructors explained how to put on the gear. I was itching for the water to touch my skin, especially with the burning heat. With instructions finally over, he called us off the boat, down the stairs, one by one, into the sea. As my legs slowly touched the water, my excitement reached a new high. I could literally feel the warm Caribbean Sea on my body. I let go of the railing and charged into the water.  

The instructor guided us closer to the beach and explained the types of sea creatures that we might see. He finally set us free, and I plunged my face into the water, breathing easily through the snorkelling mask. We spent hours exploring the sea, with the occasional moments of sea water entering my nostrils. It had been one of the most fun things I had done in a long time and I could not wait to do it again. We got on the boat, ate our lunch, and headed back to the bay, before taking the coach back home.  

At the hotel I could not stop reminiscing about the adventure that we had just had. It was the day that I’d taken the least pictures but had the most fun. Exhausted, I showered to remove the saltwater off my skin and sought a quick nap before dinner. I closed my eyes and began to dream. 

I was back in the ocean, snorkelling gear on and the beautiful sea all around. I felt the excitement of being back to what was now my new favourite place. I began to swim further away from the group, chasing a little black and ywllow stripped fish in the sea. I lifted my head up from the sea, and realised that I had been so immersed in the chase that I had gotten quiet far from the group. It was not miles away, but at least 3 minutes swimming distance away. I heard a voice in the sea, one whispering what sounded like my name. I wanted to make sure it was I that was being addressed. I stuck my head back into the ocean, and could hear the whispers, deep in the ocean. I began to swim towards the noise, hearing multiple voices now. I kept swimming until I needed air, I looked up towards the sky only to notice the distance between myself and the surface of the water. I tried to go back up, only to find that I was being pulled down. I looked to see what it was, but there was no one there, and yet I felt the hand pulling me further in. I continued to struggle until I finally screamed out “water”. 

That night I made a vow not to touch the sea for the rest of my trip.  

The following morning, with the dream still plaguing my thoughts, I reluctantly went on another boat tour. This included a sulphur bath, waterfall, planation tour and a great lunch. I enjoyed my time on the tour and the Catamaran and by midday I had completely forgotten the dream. As the boat took us home, the captain suggested stopping off for 30 minutes of snorkelling. He took us to the exact same place that we had snorkelled the previous day.  

And there it was I thought. I sat on the edge of the boat looking out into the place where I drowned. The place of nightmares. The place that had kept me shaking throughout the night screaming out “water!” 


To find out more about my St Lucian trip earlier this year, including photographs:

Paths

Last weekend I enjoyed my first hike since Lockdown. It was a cloudy day, but one that was filled with laughter, vineyards, fallen trees and peeing in the bush. It was an easy day, the path was already set out for us, it had been walked before by countless others, and there were even silver arrows on the floor pointing us towards our destination. It was a day where getting lost seemed impossible, where locals stopped us to assure us that we were on the right path.

Unfortunately, my walk through life has not been so straight forward. COVID has provided an opportunity for me to truly consider what I want out of my life, to ask myself the big questions.  On paper this seems easy, its very easy to decide you want to do something else with your life, its very easy to decide that you want change, but it is very hard to make change happen. Its hard to stray from the path you’re already walking down, the familiar path, where arrows are pointing to a certain destination. The easy path that has been walked before, cleared of all the fallen trees and paved with opportunity. It feels like insanity to leave comfort and certainty in search the uncertain.

I think the best thing about my walks, whether through Surrey Hills or through life, is that I never walk them alone. Whether its family or friends or God, I know that whichever direction I turn, I’ll have a host of company turning with me, walking with me.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it” Abraham Lincoln  

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is a novel that Salman Rushdie called ‘the greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years’. The novel follows the life of the Buendia family in the small town of Macondo through one hundred years.

The story is filled with shocking revelations containing both science fiction and biographical-like elements. Marquez allows the reader to forget the science fictional features such as the flying carpet by presenting it in a manner that gives the reader no choice but to believe that it is in fact true. The Buendia family are all given variations of the same name, however, Marquez depicts the characters in such a distinct and unique way that the reader is always aware of whether the writer is referring to Jose Acardio Buendia or his son Jose Acardio or his son Acardio or his uncle Aureliano Buendia or his son Aureliano Jose or the other 17 Aurelianos who are also the sons of Aureliano Buendia.

The unexpected aspects of the plot makes it almost impossible for the reader to put the book down. The novel, although seemingly uninteresting at first glance, as it is a story of a small town, changes and transforms the town into a place one barely recognises in the end. It forces the reader to familiarise themselves with the landmarks and neighbours as if they were their own city landmarks and neighbours, their own streets and shops.

The structure of the novel is simplistic as it follows a chapter by chapter format. However, the new characters are not often introduced at the start of a new chapter but instead the readers are met with another Aureliano halfway through a story about a different Aureliano. Similarly, each generation is not given its own section, but as with the chapters, just flow through the book.

After first reading this book, I did not know what to make of it, but now, after much reflection, I can truly see why Rushdie called it “the greatest novel in any language in the last fifty years”. Although I do not agree with Rushdie’s statement, I do understand why he made the statement as the novel provides evidence of its greatness. I truly believe that when Christian Grey uttered the most cringe worthy lines in both literary and cinematic history, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up”, he was in fact referring to his emotional state after reading this book. Due to this, I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.


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