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Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy


by Mark Mathabane

Kaffir Boy Chapter 36 Summary

  • Although the battle lines had been drawn and Mark sided with his mother, she had no influence over him in the area of religion.
  • She was attending the Full Gospel Church of God but Mark refused to go. He believed that religion was used as a tool to manipulate blacks into subservience, to give their insufficient incomes away, and to make them passive and acquiescent.
  • Mama asks him one night if he doesn't believe God has some influence in determining how Mark's life turns out.
  • Mark doesn't know, but says that he believes that there is something greater than humans.
  • He admits that it could be in church, but he thinks it's also in their house.
  • Mark regularly wrote letters for an illiterate migrant worker named Limela, who hated the church with a passion and regularly said that blacks had land when the whites arrived with their Bibles in hand. Now blacks have the Bible and whites have the land.
  • One night, Mark is reading a letter to Limela when two evangelists, a man and a woman, stop by with pamphlets.
  • Though Limela tells them they can't sit down, they do anyway, while Limela shouts at them that he told them never to come back.
  • The woman screams that God loves him.
  • When Limela says God is only for white people, and she replies that God is color-blind, Limela is furious. He tells them they're mad, and how can whites justify what they're doing to the black man? Do they really think God will forgive them for letting blacks starve?
  • Limela compares Christianity to witchcraft and tells Mark that these people keep coming back. If you were God, he asks Mark, would you forgive white people for what they've done?
  • Never, Mark replies.
  • The pastor tells Limela not to lead children astray.
  • Mark interrupts the pastor and tells him that he's not a child and "I'm going to no fucking Jesus" (36.38). He says that people like Limela need to confront reality, not hide behind religion.
  • Mark adds that many religious people are hypocritical.
  • The pastor tells Mark that his soul is heading toward hell even as they speak.
  • Mark says he's already in hell, a hell created by this white man's religion.
  • The pastor is shocked, but Limela is stoked by Mark's arguments.
  • Finally, Limela kicks them out.
  • Mark looks at their pamphlets. He calls them a pack of lies. He and Limela use them to kindle a fire outside.

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