Born a Crime: Trevor Noah's Memoir Quiz

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11 Questions

What was considered a 'crime of existence' in apartheid South Africa?

Being born to mixed-race parents

Why was Trevor Noah's parents' relationship illegal in apartheid South Africa?

They were of different races

In what way did Noah's experiences growing up highlight the social norms of the time?

He was often bullied by both Black and White children

What cultural background did Trevor Noah's father belong to?

Swiss and Jewish

What role did Trevor Noah's mother play in his pursuit of education?

She encouraged him to seek education

What societal construct was used to divide and subjugate the population in apartheid South Africa?

Race, gender, and identity

What was the primary challenge the author faced on his daily journey to school?

Both navigating the dangerous landscape and facing discrimination and violence

What role did the author's grandmother play in his upbringing?

She was a devout Muslim who significantly influenced his religious beliefs

How did the author convey the harsh realities of life in apartheid South Africa?

By employing humor to highlight the challenges

What does the author's ability to find humor in difficult situations showcase?

His resilience and ability to cope with challenges

What is the significance of the book beyond the author's personal account?

It provides a historical narrative that sheds light on the racial, social, and political landscape of apartheid South Africa

Study Notes

Born a Crime

Trevor Noah's memoir, "Born a Crime," recounts his life growing up mixed-race in apartheid South Africa. In this country, where mixed-race relationships were strictly prohibited, Noah's very existence was a crime. The book delves into the complexities of race, gender, and identity in a society where these constructs were used to divide and subjugate the population.

Prejudice and Discrimination

Noah's mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, was a Black South African woman, and his father, Robert Noah, was a White Swiss. Because of their racial difference, their relationship was illegal under the apartheid regime's laws. Their interracial marriage was a "crime of passion," leading to Trevor's birth, which was also considered a "crime of existence".

Cultural Identity

The author grew up with his mother in a rural area, where he was raised in the Xhosa culture, which was different from his father's Swiss and Jewish background. As a mixed-race child, he was often shunned and bullied by both Black and White children due to the social norms of the time. Noah's experiences highlight the racial divide in a society where people were forced to identify as one race over the other.


Noah's mother was a teacher who encouraged him to seek an education, despite the apartheid government's efforts to suppress Black children's access to quality education. The author's journey to school was a daily challenge, as he had to navigate the dangerous landscape of apartheid South Africa, where he faced discrimination and violence.


Trevor Noah's family was Christian, but his grandmother, a devout Muslim, played a significant role in his upbringing. The author's experiences with religion in a country where different faiths were used to create divisions among people provide a unique perspective on the role of religion in shaping society.

Humor and Resilience

Throughout his memoir, Noah employs humor to convey the harsh realities of life in apartheid South Africa. His ability to find humor in difficult situations showcases his resilience and offers a glimpse into how he has dealt with the challenges he has faced.


"Born a Crime" is not only a personal account of Trevor Noah's life but also a historical narrative that sheds light on the racial, social, and political landscape of apartheid South Africa. The book's impact extends beyond a single life, offering a window into a world that has shaped the author's identity and continues to influence his perspectives on race, culture, and society.

Test your knowledge on Trevor Noah's memoir, 'Born a Crime,' which explores themes of race, identity, education, and resilience in apartheid South Africa. Learn about Noah's upbringing, his experiences with prejudice and discrimination, and the cultural influences that shaped his worldview.

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