Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 51

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Chapter 51

  • Geoffrey Montsisi is in charge of Mark's travel arrangements, and he arranges for Mark to stay in a hotel in Port Elizabeth, one that doesn't practice apartheid, and at the home of some Transkeian diplomats in Cape Town.
  • (The Transkei was one of the homelands, and the diplomats, though considered "kaffirs" before, were given status as "honorary whites" during their tenure as diplomats. Though Mark considered diplomats for the homelands to have sold out their race, he agrees to stay there. He's curious.)
  • En-route to Port Elizabeth, Mark finds he has a problem. He needs to go to the bathroom on the plane but doesn't know if there is a place on the plane for him to go. He asks the stewardess if he can go to the bathroom and she indicates the two bathrooms at the back of the plane. But Mark sees two white women coming out of them. The stewardess tells them they are vacant so he goes to the bathroom. He feels guilty about it, knowing he's probably breaking the law.
  • When he returns to his seat, the British woman sitting next to him asks if he's a tennis player. She thinks he's from America and is surprised to learn he's from South Africa. They discuss tennis in South Africa and he tells her that he intends to be the first black South African to win Wimbledon. She says she believes he can do it.
  • Mark isn't used to the luxuries of staying in a hotel, and being waited on by black men and women who insist on calling him "master" and "sir." They continue being polite, even though Mark tells them not to; they say they don't want to lose their jobs.
  • South African whites assume Mark is a black American, and they are respectful. He plays along.
  • Mark loses the singles match. He wins the first match in doubles, and loses the second.
  • In Cape Town, Mark trains by jogging and sprains his ankle. He is determined to play anyway but loses both matches in the singles, then sits out the doubles.
  • He does run a tennis clinic in Guguletu and Nyanga, two Cape Town townships. Some of the kids he meets have talent, so he writes to the Black Tennis Foundation and Mr. Montsisi to tell them about it.
  • The Transkeian diplomat is against apartheid, but tells Mark that the best way to beat it is from within. Mark disagrees but respects him. He takes Mark to see the Crossroads Squatters Camp, which makes Mark cry. It's worse than anything he's ever seen, even in Alexandra.
  • The diplomat tells Mark that these people have to dismantle their shacks every day, then put them back up again, in order to avoid the daily raids with tear gas launchers.
  • Crossroads was scheduled for demolition and the people that lived there were to lose their South African citizenship and sent back to the homelands in the Transkei.
  • When Mark returns to Alexandra, he starts volunteering for the Black Tennis Foundation. Because he was banned from black tennis, he feels okay about seeking membership at the Wanderers Club, a prestigious and exclusive tennis club. He's greeted by a "snarling black guard" (51.71) who tells him the boss isn't around and he needs to leave.
  • Mark tries another entrance and meets a young white woman who directs her to Mr. Ferguson's office.
  • Mr. Ferguson invites him in and Mark introduces himself as the black tennis player who plays at the Barrett's Tennis Ranch. Owen Williams had told Mr. Ferguson about him.
  • Mr. Ferguson asks if Mark knows that he's the only black person ever to apply for membership. Mr. Ferguson adds that he's certainly qualified. However, the decision isn't his, it's up to the committee. But there will be issues, even if they accept him they will have to give him separate showers and locker rooms, other things. It's unlikely that the committee will approve spending all that money for one tennis player.
  • But regardless of how the membership process goes, Mr. Ferguson says he thinks it won't be a problem to get him accepted to play in the tournaments. He would just have to use a separate bathroom.
  • Mark leaves, wondering how this is really integrated sports.
  • He wonders what he's going to do with his life. He hasn't heard from Stan yet. He can either go to college or get a job. He doesn't think he can go to any of the black colleges, but he can't return to the "yes baas" mentality either.

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