Very little is known about the woman who helped shape the success of prominent South African US-based comedian Trevor Noah, his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. This article will try to give a brief summary of things you might not have known about the comedian’s mother.
According to Trevor Noah’s autobiographical book Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood published in 2016, Patricia gave birth to Trevor on 20 February 1984 from her relationship with a Swiss-German man named Robert during the Apartheid era in South Africa. Although the Apartheid System advocated for strict racial segregation and illegalised all interracial marriage, brazen, Patricia, still was undeterred from having a child with the German. However, the two-faced arrest.
Patricia named Trevor after her favourite Hollywood actor John Travolta. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Patricia revealed that she got the name Trevor after being inspired by the actor. Said Patricia, ‘Trevor was the closest I could get to Travolta,’
After the apartheid, Patricia married Abel Shingange who became Trevor’s stepfather despite Trevor having tried to talk her out of the union claiming that Abel was ‘bad news’. However, Trevor was right. Soon after the marriage, Abel became very abusive and brutally assaulted Patricia.
The abuse reached boiling point when Trevor’s stepfather, Abel, shot his mother through the head at her home in Johannesburg escaping death by a whisker. Abel was convicted of attempted murder.
Trevor Noah’s mother loved going to church and she never missed a service and would sometimes spend her day in the church; she made him go to church just as much.
During apartheid, there were few jobs available for blacks. Men worked as manual labourers on farms, in factories, or in mines, and women worked in factories or as domestic workers. But Patricia was never one to conform.
As a young woman living in the township of Soweto with her family, she took a typing course. Skilled jobs or executive positions were reserved for whites, making her efforts seem futile. But the government, under pressure from international communities regarding the unjust nature of apartheid, rolled back the restrictions on labour in the 1980s. White business owners could now hire “diversity hires,” or the token black person, in clerical positions low on the corporate ladder. Patricia was able to find secretarial work for a large pharmaceutical company located in a suburb of the rich white area of Johannesburg.
It was forbidden for blacks to live in Johannesburg. But Patricia had grown tired of life in Soweto. So, one day, she packed what little belongings she had and moved to Johannesburg. She was 22.