Funny man Trevor Noah is famous for his jokes, but it’s his recent revelation of domestic violence in his childhood that has the world paying attention.
His mother, Patricia Noah, was being abused by his stepfather and the host of The Daily Show recalled asking why she didn’t leave.
“She said, ‘Because if I leave, he will kill us,’” Noah remembered. “I said to her, ‘That’s extreme. I don’t think that’s real.’
I thought she was being overly dramatic; I didn’t understand it, and she left, and as I talk about it in [my] book, within a matter of a few years, he tried to kill the family.”
Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, outlines the stepfather’s abuse in more detail.
After the couple’s divorce, Noah received a call from his brother to tell him that their stepfather had shot their mother.
Entering through the back of her skull and exiting through her nose, the bullet only narrowly missed her brain.
“I remember after the shooting, my mother was in the hospital, and all I felt was rage,” he said.
“My mother said to me, ‘Don’t hate him for doing this, but rather pity him because he too is a victim, in his own way, of a world that has thrust upon him an idea of masculinity that he has subscribed to and is now part of.
As for myself, I do not wish to imbue myself with a hatred that only I will carry.’”
Like most people, Noah didn’t initially appreciate where his mum was coming from – if anyone should have been angry, it’s her.
“I think watching my mom, her growth post-shooting, our family and the way we became strong, really became the example that I chose to live by,” the 33-year-old said.
“That’s really what I’ve stuck to, and that’s how I try to live my life every day.”
Although his stepfather was convicted of attempted murder, he was only sentenced to probation.
The book’s name Born a Crime is inspired by the fact interracial marriage and interracial sex was illegal when his black South African mother met his white Swiss father in 1984.
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