Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I love Stan Smith

Written by: on June 15, 2017

Kaffir Boy, The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa, by Mark Mathabane is a sobering look at what it meant to grow up as a black male in the 1960’s and the 1970’s in abject poverty of Alexandria, South Africa during the Apartheid. Mathabane’s autobiography takes the reader on an intense journey from early childhood to High School graduation. It graphically tells the story of: white racism against poverty stricken blacks fighting for daily survival; the effects of malnourishment, domestic abuse, and fighting the system; and the difference education and exposure can have on the most likely of people.

There where several of Mathabane’s realities that I found interesting. First was his view of white people that was formulated through watching movies (Mathabane, 53). The exposure to the Christianity from a white crusade tent (Mathabane, Chapter 9). The affirmative view and use of a witchdoctor, even after receiving the Gospel message (Mathabane, 74). The plight and cycle of the system that works against the poor, Mathabane’s birth certificate. (Mathabane, 118). The transformative effect of education (Mathabane, Chapter 21-25). The power of exposure to a new white world that Mathabane had never experienced. (Mathabane, Chapter 30). Also the power of sport, like tennis and the athlete’s that play like Arthur Ashe (Mathabane, Chapter 38). The power of America as a promised land, as Mark first converses with friend Andre Zietsman (Mathabane, chapter 46). Then the incredible door opening relationship with Stan Smith, resulting in a full ride scholarship to be the first black South African boy to go to college in America on a tennis scholarship.

The book for me was eye opening to a world that I know nothing about. The pains of poverty: lack of food, shanty living, no indoor plumbing, no bed, fighting for an education. The pains of racism: police brutality, unlawful entry by white police in the early morning hours, harassment in the form of fee-based legislation and permits to work, live, just exist. The pains of domestic abuse: out of work father, spousal abuse, strained parental relationship. Last, the pains of prejudice: just because of the color of your skin you are discriminated against and the world is stacked against you. This book was a sober insight into the plight of so many.

On a very positive note, it also demonstrated how the incredible power of influence an affluence can be leveraged to change somebody’s life, as Stan and Marjorie Smith did for Mark Mathabane. The Smith’s showed true kindness and compassion by spending and investing capital into a young man they saw promise in. The Smith’s took time to acknowledge Mark as a player, invited him to eat and listened to Mark’s story, then used relational connection to make Mark’s dream of coming to America and receive a college education a reality. I have always loved Stan Smith as a player and have worn and wear Stan Smith Adidas, but this book took Stan to a whole new level for me. Stan showed how one individual can live out values in a real way, in a real world, to make real change. I want to use whatever ability and power I have to be a Stan Smith to a Mark Mathabane.

About the Author

Aaron Cole

5 responses to “I love Stan Smith”

  1. Marc Andresen says:


    During your childhood and adolescence did you observe anything remotely resembling the racism about which Mathabane writes?


    As a kid, did you hear racism in the church?

    If either question is ‘yes,’ how do you process that from a Biblical theology perspective.

    (By way of example, how I would answer that question: my maternal grandfather was a flaming racist and I grew up hearing racial epithets. I didn’t have the theological grounding to critique his attitudes. It wasn’t until college and forming friendships with a very diverse group of friends that I began to realize how my grandfather had affected me. I then launched on a journey of unlearning a great deal…)

  2. Pablo Morales says:

    Aaron, as you, I was introduced to a world I know nothing about. I do not know hunger, poverty, or segregation. I was also left with a feeling of wanting to be engaged in making a difference. I liked how you put it, “to be a Stan Smith to a Mark Mathabane.” I know that you mean it, because your life is invested already in making a difference as you opened your own home to adoption. Throughout these past years, I’ve grown to respect and admire your caring heart. I look forward to reconnecting again in South Africa!

  3. Phil Goldsberry says:

    Kudos on your stylistic look with Stan Smith! I’m sure he would appreciate your vote of approval and debonair looks!

    You mentioned what the Smith’s did for Mathabane. With the atrocities that face us today, do you really believe that there is the power of one? That’s not loaded, it is intuitive. The Smith’s reached out to others who reached out to their sphere and Mathabance gets an opportunity to an American university.

    I believe in the catalytic power of one, but it does take a team. Much like you and your influence into Cuba. You caught a vision, but you have empowered others into the vision.


  4. AC: My Adidas!!!!
    It’s amazing to me as well how much influence one person can have on another. Sometimes affluence can take that influence to a whole new level.
    I appreciate your blogs and your input to our cohort. I’m looking forward to hanging out in SA together.

  5. Claire Appiah says:

    I love the way you succinctly summed up the contents of “Kaffir Boy.” If I read your blog first, it would not have been necessary to read the book.
    Christians should consistently look for ways in which they can empower, bless, and transform someone else’s life. But, before we credit ourselves or others with great endeavors on behalf of the needy, we must never forget the power and influence of the Holy Spirit to orchestrate specific events, and put everything in place, so that in the end it all comes together for the Kingdom of God.

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