Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah

I heard about Trevor Noah because he was a world-renowned comedian, I had watched some of his 11 stand up and his work on the daily show and he was extremely entertaining. I picked this book because the author had a familiar name and I thought I would have a laugh; however, I was pleasantly surprised by his uplifting and powerful message. I found this book motivational and inspiring, enduring the struggles of racism, domestic violence, poverty and so on, he never gave up or gave in. This book helped me understand that judging a book from its cover is wrong, there are so many circumstances we are unaware of and yet society is so quick to throw blame and point a finger. One of his quotes that really stood out was: “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”. This quote really made me question how we got to a stage where people need to turn to crime just to survive, just to put food on the table for their families, and after they make such a sacrifice, they get prosecuted without a second thought. I’m not justifying turning to crime, and I believe those put in such situations who remain steadfast and strong, who find other means, are exceptional. However, there are some people who believe there is no other way to survive, and this is a serious problem we need to address. This book really made me think and made me question myself and society as a whole, it empowered me to think beyond my means to search for solutions to problems the world is trying to ignore. I would definitely recommend this book, it will help you see things from a different light, oh and of course you’ll also be dying laughing.  

Dev Gardi

Rating: 5 Recommend




Reading Born A crime  was a wonderful read, I personally enjoyed the book very much. It had a comedic approach to many of the challenges and obstacles that Trevor faced throughout his life. I found myself at times laughing at some of the jokes when reading alone in the library or in my room. Understanding Trevor’s journey throughout his life has taught me many different and important lessons. I appreciated the persistence he had to continue to fight even when faced with prejudice over the colour of his skin and the races of his parents. He found a way to cope and get past that and this helped me have a happier and more uplifting approach to life. We see how Trevor uses his music priacy business, burning CDs and making mixtapes. Though not too important at first glance, there is a very important lesson underneath. His journey with his business showed him how education and resources could be used to better help improve the conditions of those who have less. He saw himself use what he had to make more and reach a point where he had a sense of freedom. “Give a man a fish and he’ll be full for a  day. Teach a man how to fish and he’ll be full for life.” Trevor also teaches us that goals and aspirations are vitally important in life, because they give us a sense of purpose. In the book he encounters many people from where he lives that live life just getting by, and though difficult, he says, they don’t have the time to ask themselves any of the big important questions. Who are you? Who are you supposed to be? How do you get there? An important aspect of the book that I personally enjoyed was having such a mix of cultures from South Africa. Trevor being mixed in a time where apartheid was still in play, gave him an interesting perception of life. He talks in detail about his struggles understanding the difference and the purpose of segregation. But he also talks about how his time in South Africa taught him the importance of language. Being from such a diverse family background, he had the opportunity to learn many different languages, like Tswana, Xhosa, or Zulu. This came in very handy to them, because even though people did not immediately perceive him as one of them, the language he spoke, their language, made them feel like he was one of them. There are many important lessons hidden in the book behind the jokes and personal anecdotes. But many similarities too, between Trevor and “privileged” children in a country full of unprivileged citizens. Though not completely similar, there are aspects of Trevor’s life that I personally relate to and that make me feel at home. A great read that I would definitely recommend.

Karigo Said Msuya 

Rating: 5 Recommend


Born a Crime was not what I expected it to be; it absolutely beat and trampled on my expectations. As a long-term fan of Trevor Noah’s comedy, I was beyond thrilled when I saw this book on the reading list. From the very first chapter, it did not disappoint. As the name suggests, Born a Crime is a book about a mixed-race boy who was born when such was not accepted in South Africa. The book follows Trevor Noah as he makes his way through his childhood, teenagehood, and young adulthood facing various challenges because of his skin and family among other difficulties. Trevor Noah details the struggles he faced because he was not white enough to be considered white or black enough to be considered black. There were times when he literally had to be hidden for his own protection. An aspect of the book that stuck out to me was apartheid. Trevor Noah was born as black people in South Africa began to break free from the shackles of apartheid. The book explored apartheid from a more personal perspective. Trevor Noah included his accounts of apartheid which really opened me up to the more emotional and intimate effects on South Africans. Previously, I was only aware of the facts. From this book I was able to truly feel how terrible it must have been to actually go through such. In addition, the book offers few factual summaries in between chapters about apartheid and South African culture. I definitely recommend this to anyone searching for a bit of a History lesson with a comedic aspect to it. It was definitely worth the read.

Megan Kamau

Rating: 5 Recommend



Trevor Noah is most commonly known as a stand-up comedian and his book truly captures his hilarious self while at the same time bringing awareness to the lives of people during apartheid through many stories. Trevor Noah is the child of a South African woman and a Swiss man. During apartheid, black people were not allowed to have children with white people and so he constantly ha to be hidden due to his very light skin tone and he could not be with his father in public. Trevor’s mother in particular was quite the character. Being a Xhosa woman, she was regarded as promiscuous and unfaithful but she really didn’t care about what anyone had to say and went for what she believed in. After giving birth to Trevor, she lived in an illegal apartment and got a job as a secretary and when she found another husband, she refused to submit to him even in front of his family. She was very strong-willed and she always lived by her faith, which probably saved her when her husband shot her in the head. Born a Crime is really a very educational book and it feels more personal and you get to experience the life through Trevor’s many funny stories about his childhood and one thing I learned is that they always made due with what they had, whether it was Trevor DJing to get some extra cash, or the mum taking many buses just to go to different churches across the town. They were happy and appreciative but also aimed for more. The book taught me not to stay in situations I was not comfortable with and always aim for much more even if you’re not expected to.

Irene Nyambura

Rating: 5 Recommend



Trevor Noah is known for his witty humour, satirical social commentary and all round nice guy persona. However, I contend that his memoir ‘Born a Crime’ is one of the best autobiographical pieces of writing you will ever read. Not only did I finish this book in a matter of days, I completely connected with each chapter despite one; not being South African and two, not being a 37 year old South African man. Set against a backdrop of a deeply racist, divided South Africa, Noah depicts the damaging effects of apartheid on one’s identity, family and mindset. Though, what separates Noah from other writers is that he has the ability to relay quite tragic events in his life in such a funny way. The book has you laughing, crying and smiling all at the same time, above all wishing you could have an interview with him just to hear if all the stories are true. The collection of 18 personal entries reveals a story about a young boy navigating the challenges of life with his strong, religious mother as his guide. The seamless interweaving of the socio-political landscape and the effect this has on his life manages to capture the hope of a South Africa newly freed and the stark reality of its impact on ones daily life. Ultimately, if you are looking for a quick read that can make you reflect, laugh and witness the impact of positive change in a country, this book is for you.

Nicole Jean-Louis

Rating: 5 Recommend



This book was truly engaging and I was captivated by the whole book. A lesson I learned from the book was regret, not failure, is the thing we should fear the most. “We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.” - Born a Crime. This lesson is particularly important to me because it provides me the strength to continue and persevere even with the fear of failure, because the fear of regret is stronger.

Nicole Mgomella

Rating: 5 Recommend