Born a Crime


I love Trevor Noah’s comedy, and I am curious about his life. I know almost nothing about South Africa, and this book gives me a glimpse of what it was like under apartheid and being a kid with mixed ethnicity. His book is as funny as his comedy, which is filled with dark humor on racism and prejudices people have. The only difference is that it was real life. Read the highlights if you want to get a glimpse of what if feels like.


  • He was trying to live up to this image of what he thought a husband should be, dominant, controlling. I remember being told as a child, “If you don’t hit your woman, you don’t love her.” That was the talk you’d hear from men in bars and in the streets.
  • She believed my prayers were more powerful, because I prayed in English. Everyone knows that Jesus, who’s white, speaks English. The Bible is in English. Yes, the Bible was not written in English, but the Bible came to South Africa in English so to us it’s in English. Which made my prayers the best prayers because English prayers get answered first. How do we know this? Look at white people.
  • The white kids I’d met that morning, they went in one direction, the black kids went in another direction, and I was left standing in the middle, totally confused. Were we going to meet up later on? I did not understand what was happening.
  • When it was time to pick my name, she chose Trevor, a name with no meaning whatsoever in South Africa, no precedent in my family. It’s not even a Biblical name. It’s just a name. My mother wanted her child beholden to no fate. She wanted me to be free to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone.
  • I’d found my niche. Since I belonged to no group I learned to move seamlessly between groups. I floated. I was a chameleon, still, a cultural chameleon. I learned how to blend. I could play sports with the jocks. I could talk computers with the nerds. I could jump in the circle and dance with the township kids. I popped around to everyone, working, chatting, telling jokes, making deliveries.
  • The hood made me realize that crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn’t do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn’t discriminate. My life of crime started off small, selling pirated CDs on the corner. That in itself was a crime,