Mark's childhood is dominated by fear and poverty. He suffers from fear of the police, who are constantly raiding his home and carting away his parents. Mark also suffers from starvation. His parents are unable to get jobs that pay enough for them to eat well and
Mark starts elementary school but wants to quit because the teachers are so violent and keep punishing him for things that are out of his control (i.e., his inability to pay school fees on time and his lack of a proper uniform).
Mark witnesses a brutal murder and tries to commit suicide because he's so miserable and wonders if life is worth it.
Mark starts reading the books Granny brings home from her job at the Smiths. After meeting the Smiths, he has some pocket money from occasional jobs. They give him a used tennis racket and he starts hitting balls at the Alexandra tennis court.
Mark meets Scaramouche and they begin their mentoring relationship.
Mark graduates from primary school at the top of this class and earns a scholarship to pay for his secondary school (high school) tuition and fees.
Mark joins the tennis team at his secondary school and begins winning matches and championships.
Another member of the tennis team introduces Mark to Wilfred Horn, who runs the Barrett's Tennis Ranch, and Mark begins to practice tennis at the exclusive club.
Mark sees Arthur Ashe play and it inspires him to try to earn a tennis scholarship for college in America.
With the encouragement of his friends Helmut and Wilfred Horn, Mark enters the South African Breweries' Open, even though it means he'll be banned from playing black tennis in South Africa. He loses his match.
Mark meets Stan Smith and his wife, and forms a friendship.
Stan Smith pays for Mark's entrance in the Sugar Circuit, and Mark plays tennis in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
With the help of Stan and others, Mark eventually gets a tennis scholarship at a Limestone College in South Carolina, which he accepts.
At the end of Kaffir Boy, we see Mark leaving South Africa and his family behind for the promise of a free life in the United States.