This is a poignant summary of the fascinating yet overwhelming book, Kaffir Boy, written by Mark (Johannes) Mathabane. It is a powerfully moving book, in part, because it shows the devastating impact of bad leadership. We read of this in a slightly more objective setting through The Rise and Fall of Apartheid.  But in a way there is more potency in viewing the impact of evil in the life of one person; particularly a small child.
Our D. Min cohort has invested two years studying the multifaceted world of Leadership and Global Perspectives, and here at the end of our course work we encounter a perspective that may be the most challenging for leaders. Kaffir Boy tells us that Leadership which is informed by Global Perspectives draws us to model leadership that seeks the best interests of people and feeds hope. All through his life and his book we see the devastation of leadership that is self-serving; never concerned with the well being of those the allegedly led.
What is the purpose of leadership? Kaffir Boy tells us.
Kaffir Boy tells us that leadership must bring people to a place of hope. By way of a metaphor for leadership consider the power of a magnet.
Picture metal shavings randomly spread around a table. There is no order or coordination; just metal shavings scattered with some by themselves and some brushing against other shavings. If each tiny piece of metal were a person, the picture would resemble anarchy: each one on their own with no semblance of coordination or cooperation.
Insert a magnet into the setting, and the shavings are drawn both to the magnet and closer to one another. The magnet may not “organize” the metal shavings but when drawn to the magnet they may at least move together, unified, in a single direction. Revelation or vision from God serves as a magnet; drawing us forward, with others, in a positive direction.
Proverbs 29:18 is translated in the New American Standard Bible, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…” English Standard Version says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” To offer a loose paraphrase/application: When people cannot see how God is connected to their lives and is leading them, life becomes chaotic and even hopeless: the death of a soul.
Mark Mathabane’s childhood, and the ghetto of Alexandra was that random setting of metal shavings. In his life there was little, if any, coordination, cohesiveness, or predictable and orderly life. It was an environment so filled with hopelessness, chaos, confusion, fear, and unpredictability that he contemplated suicide at the young age of ten years old.
He gained a glimmer of hope through his success in school. But he gained momentum through the influence (leadership) of tennis star Stan Smith, who facilitated a way forward through tennis.
Kaffir Boy tells us that leadership shows the power of the Gospel and challenges Christians to give exclusive allegiance to Jesus.
In Christian Theology and African Traditions  Matthew Michael addresses the problems of a fully manifested Christianity not engaging African traditions. He points out that often Africans will ascribe to Christian faith, but still resort to tribal ways when encountering difficulty.
Mark Mathabane sites several examples in his family and life that show Michael’s thesis to be true. Mathabane writes, “Some became full Christians, and discarded tribal ways of worship. Others, however, while they did take up Christianity, continued to worship tribal religions, under the delusion that they could have it both ways.”  Of his mother he further writes, “As for my mother, despite openly and proudly calling herself a Christian, her tribal beliefs continued as strong as ever, latently when things seemed to be going right, and actively when things were going wrong. Hers was a Christianity of expediency.” 
Kaffir Boy tells us that leadership must bring truth and authentic Christian faith that sets people free.
Mathabane grew to see the dichotomy between where his father’s life had been and his life was going. “…I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that black life would never revert to the past, that the clock would never turn back to a time centuries ago when black people had lived in peace and contentment before the coming of the white man.”  But he also says, “Yet somehow, in a mysterious, diabolical way, our growth as a people, our aspirations as individuals, our capacity to dream and to create, our hopes for the future as a nation united, had been ruthlessly stunted by whites who possessed our lives from birth to death.” 
Once again we find the need for vision that draws people toward an obtainable future. It is untenable to be trapped between what was and never again will be, and what you can imagine but have no real hope might ever become.
“Worst of all, I found among members of some churches a readiness to accept their lot as God’s will, a willingness to disparage their own blackness and heritage as inferior to the white man’s Christianity, a readiness to give up fighting to make things just in this world, in the hope that God’s justice would prevail in the hereafter…” 
Resignation: is this part of the death to a mind and soul?
Kaffir Boy shows us the powerful leadership of a changed life.
In the end, Mark Mathabane has become a leader through his writing. In a video interview he said, “I went to the White House in 1993 – after [President] Clinton read Kaffir Boy. He was so deeply moved by it he wanted to thank me for writing it because he said that it was one of the things that influenced his decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Nelson Mandela and de Klerk for their work in ending Apartheid and avoiding civil war.” 
1. Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa (New York, NY: Free Press, 1896), 181.
2. David Welsh, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2009).
3. Matthew Michael, Christian Theology and African Traditions (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2013).
4. Mathabane, 59.
5. Ibid., 77.
6. Ibid., 207.
7. Ibid., 234-235.
8. Ibid., 217.
9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh6grpxYOqQ. Accessed June 19, 2017