I wanted to share with you the book I’ve just finished reading, which also links very well to a TED talk I’ve listened to quite by accident. There are parallels, with the same net result.


The book, Born a Crime, is written by Trevor Noah. The author is a South African comedian who has hit it big in the US, but his life wasn’t always this charmed. On starting the book, and in my naivety, I assumed I’d be giggling away at the author’s humour and thereafter be able to quote silly one-liners. However, I was way off the mark. Instead it’s a hard-hitting reality check about just how harsh life in the apartheid era was for people of colour. It tells the story of Trevor’s upbringing and how, as a child of mixed race, he was just not accepted in this country of grave injustice. Being neither black nor white, where did he fit in?

For me, the story is even more poignant because here was a boy who, thanks to the strength and determination of his amazing mother, had more than most children in his situation in that was he was given an education. Yet, by virtue of his skin colour, he still had it tough. In order to ‘fit in’, he got in with a bad crowd and involved in petty crime. He could have ended up like so many by spending a lifetime in prison; instead he turned his life around and is now hugely successful and highly thought of, though sometimes controversial.

Then, quite by chance, I happened to come across a TED talk by Curtis Carroll. Curtis tells the story of his childhood in a deprived part of the US, where members of his family (including his mother) were crackheads and the only means of survival was crime.

While imprisoned as a 20-year-old he realises that his illiteracy was holding him back. Learning to read enabled him to survive in prison. It also enabled him to become finance savvy and begin trading in stocks. Today he shares a simple yet powerful message: we all need to be more savvy with our money. Like so many TED talks, it is totally inspiring and one cannot help but marvel at what he has achieved, considering how very tough his life was while growing up.

What links these two amazing people is the fact that as boys they endured so much, yet have come out at the other end. They were both exposed to a world many of us cannot even conceive and yet are now extremely successful and intent on spreading the word – communicating that there is hope out of darkness and anything is achievable if you really want it.