Carson is an instructor of English literature and composition. In this essay, Carson discusses Kaffir Boy in relation to both postcolonialism and other South African literary biographies.
Postcolonial studies and literary criticism examine twentieth century political and social issues resulting form interactions between European nations and the peoples they colonized. Of especial concern are humanitarian issues, particularly disparities in the treatment and living conditions between the native peoples and the colonizers who have raped the natural resources and wealth for themselves. Displacement and loss of traditional value systems and inequities in land ownership have created volatile, racial imbalance between the majority black populations and white minority legal structure. In South Africa, for instance, the Native Land Act of 1913 reserved only 13 percent of its land for Africans who made up 80 percent of the population Hill is the author of a poetry collection, has published widely in literary journals, and is an editor for a university publications department. In the following essay, Hill examines the brutal existence that Mathabane survived, the honesty with which he recounts it, and the incredible hope he maintained in the face of such atrocities.
When Mathabane's Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa was published in America in 1986, most, if not all, of those who read it could not begin to identify with the horrors it describes, and it is safe to assume that many could not even fully comprehend them. The brutality, persecution, filth, and unending perils of day-to-day living were too much for some readers to take, too much for some to believe. Yes
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