This is an excerpt from Trevor Noah's amazing autobiography Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
The money kept rolling in and I was balling out of control. This is how balling I was: I bought a cordless telephone. This was before everyone had a cellphone. The range on this cordless phone was strong enough that I could put the base outside my window, walk the two blocks to McDonald’s, order my large number one, walk back home, go up to my room, and fire up my computer, carrying on a conversation the whole time.
I was that dude walking down the street holding a giant phone to my ear with the aerial fully extended, talking to my friend. “Yeah, I’m just goin’ down to McDonald’s…” Life was good, and none of it would have happened without Andrew. Without him, I would never have mastered the world of music piracy and lived a life of endless McDonald’s.
What he did, on a small scale, showed me how important it is to empower the dispossessed and the disenfranchised in the wake of oppression. Andrew was white. His family had access to education, resources, computers.
For generations, while his people were preparing to go to university, my people were crowded into thatched huts singing, “Two times two is four. Three times two is six. La la la la la.” My family had been denied the things his family had taken for granted.
I had a natural talent for selling to people, but without knowledge and resources, where was that going to get me? People always lecture the poor: “Take responsibility for yourself! Make something of yourself!” But with what raw materials are the poor to make something of themselves?People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.
Working with Andrew was the first time in my life I realized you need someone from the privileged world to come to you and say, “Okay, here’s what you need, and here’s how it works.” Talent alone would have gotten me nowhere without Andrew giving me the CD writer. People say, “Oh, that’s a handout.” No. I still have to work to profit by it. But I don’t stand a chance without it.