One of the biggest complaints of the post-94 South Africa is that young people don’t read; actually it is said that young Black people don’t read. This, sadly may be true and probably an indictment on the previous socio-political and economic systems that advantaged one race and class over others and, to a limited extent, those who raise these young people.
What Noah achieves through this book is to tell the story of a South African young person who grows up under the same conditions most cite as reasons why they are not making it. Noah catalogues trials and tribulations, often far worse than what most young people will experience and says at the end. ‘Regardless of all these, I made it’. Among young people Noah does not need any introduction, the story of his success is well-known; maybe what is not known is that he rose from the bottom just like most of South African youth today. Born A Crime is not all about growing up and ending up a Hollywood darling but also chronicles South Africa’s racist past in an anecdotal way. Noah cracks jokes about the Group Areas Act, Separate Amenities Act and explores his biracial upbringing by a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother. Furthermore he touches on being raised by a MuTsonga father who was abusive and shot his mother through the mouth. This book speaks about violence as it is being experienced right now, it talks about overcoming odds to make it in life. In our books such stories are what makes youth literature because the people most in need of role models are youth. Noah is to South African youth what Zozibini Tunzi is – and if Zozi wrote the story of her life we trust it would make for spellbinding youth reading – because as pop idols, the youth relate more to them than to us, their elders.