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Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy


by Mark Mathabane

Kaffir Boy Chapter 49 Summary

  • Helmut suggests that Mark enter the South African Breweries' Open, but Mark doesn't want to be another "sacrificial lamb," knowing that most black players weren't good enough to make it through the qualifying round (49.3).
  • Also, in 1977, the International Tennis Federation put pressure on South Africa's professional tennis organization to open membership to blacks or be expelled.
  • Black tennis players responded by boycotting the professional tennis organization, not willing to give a positive face to apartheid. They insisted instead that tennis be integrated immediately. White tennis officials looked for black token players and asked Helmut to convince Mark to enter the SAB Open.
  • Mark tells Helmut he doesn't want to be used by white people. Helmut says he might get his chance to meet Americans and find out more about tennis scholarships.
  • Mark is desperate enough that he says yes.
  • For two weeks, Mark works hard to qualify.
  • Mama asks him if he's trying to kill himself. He's training so hard that it's making him sick.
  • The black tennis organization contacts Mark and tells him that if he participates, he'll be banned from playing black tennis for life.
  • Scaramouche tells him to play anyway. He says that if you look at American history, sports were at the forefront for changing race relations in the U.S.
  • Mama tells him to forget it. Does he want to die? The threats are real.
  • But Mark really wants to go to America, even though Mama tells him he's hallucinating.
  • Mark finally tells Wilfred that he's thinking of withdrawing from the open due to death threats. But Wilfred tells him he should play. It will give him a psychological boost for his game and he may get noticed, even earn a scholarship to America. But he leaves the decision up to Mark.
  • He calls Owen Williams, the organizer of the Open. Williams tells him that he thinks the death threats are a bluff, but admits that Mark is being used.
  • However, he adds, the future of black tennis lies in the hands of whites. Their attitudes need to change and the only way it will change is if they see black players. This is a good place to start.
  • Mark tells Owen Williams he needs a day to think about it, but he already knows what his decision is.

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