One of our Thanksgiving traditions is to go around the table and share our blessings. For me it is always a variation of being grateful for family, friends, our pets, our health, etc. This year, though, my expression of gratitude will be tinged with anxiety about a future that is hard to fathom, at least for the next four years.
Since the election I have tried to stay away from TV and radio news. I just can’t listen to it.
This erstwhile news junkie has gone cold turkey.
That works out well except when I’m in the car. I need a distraction when I’m driving. Music is great, but there are times when I need an alternative. As luck would have it, I have discovered Audible, and the timing could not be better.
Audible is a division of Amazon, and purchases are easy either on the website or the app, which I downloaded on my iPhone. Browsing through the selections, I discovered a ton of audiobooks that piqued my interest.
Born a Crime
I was totally caught up in one of Audible’s new releases, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. You may know Noah as the successor to Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. In this memoir he reveals a background light years away from the celebrity life he enjoys now. Noah grew up biracial in South Africa’s apartheid.
Noah, the son of a devoutly religious Xhosa mother and a white Swiss-German father, was “born a crime” since it was against the law during apartheid for whites and blacks to be together, let alone have a child. The fine could have been imprisonment for either parent up to five years. Nonetheless, Noah’s mother would take that risk because she wanted a child so badly.
Noah says, “… my mother started her little project, me, at a time when she could not have known that apartheid would end. There was no reason to think it would end; it had seen generations come and go. I was nearly six when Mandela was released, ten before democracy finally came, yet she was preparing me to live a life of freedom long before we knew freedom would exist.”
Noah’s upbringing took place in the last years of apartheid, in the 80s and 90s, in a world of poverty and intense racism. His remarkable mother was determined her son would rise above it. Strong-willed and no nonsense, Noah’s mother taught him the values of education and freedom as she struggled with the restrictions in her own life.
With humor, Noah describes his mother as a woman deeply tied to her religion. She dragged her son to church four days a week and three different church services on Sundays, in three different towns.
In these essays, Noah shares personal stories and also the broader landscape of apartheid society: segregated housing, limited employment opportunities except for menial work, and curfews not imposed on the white population.
I was drawn in by Noah’s mellifluous voice as he swept me into his world. Learning about a life so different from mine, filled with obstacles that I have been fortunate never to face, was a lesson worth learning.
And another reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving.
If you would like to hear Born a Crime or any other selection on Audible, you’re in luck. Use this code for a 30-day free trial.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.