Throughout his book, Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane describes in intricate detail how the white South Africans controlled South Africa in the 1960's and 1970's. The racial tensions in South Africa during Apartheid were strained to the breaking point, with the whites having complete control over the black population. Although the blacks far out numbered the whites, the whites still maintained control. The white people of South Africa kept control in many different ways. From requiring that all adult citizens carry passbooks, to pitting black against black by using tribal natives as policemen, they kept Apartheid alive. These are just two of the many ways whites kept control of black South Africa. .
Apartheid was the system of complete segregation between whites and blacks. It is the most extreme form of segregation. Not only did the blacks have to use different bathrooms and go to different schools than whites, as they did in the United States, they were also forced to live in run down ghettos and they were, for the most part, only allowed to have menial jobs which paid very little. Mathabane illustrates this point by describing the jobs of his parents and other blacks that he knows. His grandmother, for instance, is a gardener for a rich white family. His mother did not get a job until Mark started school and she needed to help pay school expenses. She was unable to get a work permit so she had to find a job within Alexandria. She finally found one as the housekeeper of an Indian family. .
Passbooks were also an integral part of the white's control over the blacks. Passbooks were the black's identification and proof that they had paid all of their taxes, had permits to work, etc. Passbooks were almost impossible to keep in order and if you were caught with it out of order you could be arrested and put in jail, or sent to farms to work as a slave laborer. Mathabane illustrated the importance of the passbook by describing how his parents spent much of their money on bribes to the police men so they would not be arrested for their out of order passbooks.