Trevor Noah is one of the best comedians to have come out of South Africa. He can make jokes out of troubling real-life issues yet draw serious attention to the matter. The comedian who is also many other things is so good at what he does that questions about his family background are becoming increasingly popular these days. One interesting thing about his birth is how Trevor Noah’s parents defied the restrictions of the South African apartheid-era at the time, got into a relationship, and had him. His parents who gave birth to him as a crime as he described it in his book “Born a Crime” are not popular like him but we gathered a few interesting facts about them.
Trevor Noah’s Parents Are a Swiss-German Father and a South African Mother
Now 37 years old, Trevor Noah was born on the 20th of February 1984 to Robert Noah and Patricia Nombuyiselo in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. His father Robert, is a Swiss-German immigrant to South Africa while his mother Patricia, is a South African Xhosa woman. Naturally, Robert was classified as white while his partner Patricia was classified as black in the then apartheid South Africa. Trevor on the other hand was classified as colored.
Robert arrived in Johannesburg South Africa as a 46-year-old to oversee the establishment of a chain of Swiss-oriented supermarkets in South Africa. Patricia on the other hand was living and working in Hillbrow, a liberal part of Joburg for people of all color and also home to many whites who disapproved of the discrimination against blacks. Perhaps, Robert was one of these white people.
It was reported that Trevor Noah’s parents lived in the same building and in no distant time, they met, became friends, and later on turned lovers. While Patricia didn’t want to marry Robert outrightly because apartheid legislation forbade it, she at least wanted to have a baby with him as a way of revolting against apartheid laws. Robert however didn’t want this as he would have no claim to any (colored) child that would eventually be born. As time went on, he changed his stance and gave in to Patricia’s demands, thus, Trevor Noah was born.
Facts About Robert Noah, Trevor’s Father
- Full name: Robert Noah
- Nationality: Swiss-German
- Date of birth: Unknown
- Age: Unknown
- Age he met Trevor’s mum: 46 years old
- Occupation: Businessman
- Current marital status: Unknown
Robert Noah was a man many had not seen his like in South Africa at the time. As a white man, agreeing to have a child with a black woman was one thing many wouldn’t dare at the time, but he did do it. A lot is however still not known about Robert in public as he is a reserved man. For example, it is known that Trevor’s mum later remarried but nothing of such is known about Robert. However, the much we gathered has it that he worked as a chef in Canada and New York before he relocated to South Africa to spearhead the establishment of a chain of Swiss-owned supermarkets.
In Johannesburg South Africa, Robert later opened the first integrated restaurant with a special license to serve black people. The business was a huge success, even though many whites petitioned the government to close it down. At first, it was alleged that he didn’t keep the restaurant tidy and it posed health concerns but this was far from the truth. He was later mandated to construct separate toilets for black and whites and even though he refused to bulge to this, he had to close the restaurant with time to avoid disturbances coming from the apartheid government.
Meet Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, Trevor’s Mother
- Full name: Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah
- Nationality: South African
- Date of birth: Unknown
- Age: Unknown
- Age she met Trevor’s father: 24 years old
- Occupation: Unknown
- Current marital status: Divorced (Ngisaveni Abel Shingange)
Patricia Nombuyiselo is of the famous Xhosa tribe in South Africa. She learned how to read and write in a missionary school in Transkei. She later secured a job in a factory where her wage was the equivalent of a daily meal. But being someone who knew she could do better, at 21 years old, she sought greener pastures in Soweto and it was there that she enrolled in a secretarial school where she learned the skills she used to earn a better living.
In Johannesburg, she illegally rented an apartment from a foreigner and at the same time secured a job as a typist in a large pharmaceutical company. Patricia was so good in her job that after some time, she gained promotion as the head of the clerical unit. With her new position, she earned enough money to look after herself and her son, albeit discretely.
Were Trevor Noah’s Parents Married and What was the Implication?
Trevor Noah’s parents were far from being a married couple at the time. The duo understood the implication of their relationship which readily landed Patricia in jail many times. However, as a way to revolt against the apartheid government, she decided to conceive and have a child for her white boyfriend, Robert.
Which of Trevor Noah’s Parents Had More Impact on His Upbringing?
As a result of the restriction imposed on black women having relationships with white men, Patricia concealed her romantic relationship with Robert, lest she got herself into trouble. When she found out she was with child, she tried all she could to avoid seeing Robert in public and this continued even after Noah was born. The relationship between Trevor Noah’s parents and Trevor wasn’t what is typical for most South African kids today.
Trevor Noah was for the greater part of his childhood living with his mother. At times when his mother got arrested and thrown into jail for violating one apartheid law or the other, he stayed with his maternal grandmother – Nomaliza Frances Noah – sometimes for weeks. The lad often questioned why his dad was rarely around him but as restrictions between white and black began to lesson, he increasingly gained access to his dad although discretely.
When they walked in the street, Patricia will often give a considerable distance between herself and her son so that people wouldn’t suspect she was Noah’s mother. Robert on the other hand would meet them in the park but whenever little Trevor spotted him and ran towards him yelling daddy, he would often run so people wouldn’t notice till they were all safely out of sight. At other times, the family of 3 would meet up in Robert’s home which was the safest place for them once they were inside.
Thus, though between Trevor Noah’s parents, Noah seemed to have spent more time with his mother, his father wasn’t entirely absent, he bonded well with him over time as often as the opportunity presented itself. However, when he was about 13 years old, his father relocated to Cape Town and for the next 7 years, he lost touch with him. But his mother encouraged him to go look for his father on one certain occasion and he took her advice. Upon meeting his father, Trevor was reassured that the older man loved him as he diligently kept cutouts of Trevor’s features in local newspapers and even advertisements from his comedy shows.
Patricia Raised Trevor to Be Courageous
In his book “Born a Crime,” Trevor admitted that it was his mother who molded him into the man he has become. He admitted that she is the most significant person in his life and without her, he would have become something else. Patricia raised Trevor in the black neighborhoods of South Africa to avoid harassment from the authorities on how she got to have a colored kid. Even at that, she still took him to the township albeit discretely so he could see the bigger world.
Growing up, Patricia made sure that Trevor devoted enough time to his studies, she equally bought him many books, taught and encouraged him to learn many languages. Today, Trevor is a polyglot who can speak South African languages like Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, Tswana, Tsonga, Southern Sotho, and of course English. In his book, Trevor admitted that his mother raised him like a white kid not in a cultural sense but in a sense to make him understand that the world is his oyster.
On the other hand, Trevor’s grandmother Frances Noah also played a significant role in raising the comedian. For most of the time, Patricia was thrown into jail for violating apartheid regulations, Trevor was in the care and comfort of his grandmother. He also acknowledged her role in raising him to be the man he is today.
Trevor Noah Had an Abusive Stepfather – Ngisaveni Abel Shingange
Aside from Trevor Noah’s parents, his other family members are named Andrew and Isaac Ngisaveni whom his mother had following her marriage to Ngisaveni Abel Shingange after she divorced Robert Noah. However, Patricia’s marriage with Ngisaveni was far from being what anyone would want to be in. Ngisaveni was so abusive with Patricia that in one particular instance, he beat her to stupor with scrap bicycle frames in front of their neighbors and this soon became a regular occurrence in their slum home.
She later summoned courage and left him in 1996 and got married to a certain Sfiso Khoza in July 2009 but little did she know that her troubles were far from being over. Out of anger for having been dumped Ngisaveni tracked down Patricia and shot her in the face piercing her ear, nose, and skull but missed all major nerves. He left her for dead and went in search of Trevor to shot him as well, but luckily he couldn’t find Trevor, and Patricia also survived. Expectedly, he ended up in prison and that was the last we heard of him.
But while Patricia was recovering in the hospital, Trevor burned with hatred for Ngisaveni but his mother counseled him to let go of his hate. At the time, he couldn’t understand why but over the years, he has come to appreciate his mother’s wise words. However, it is not known what Trevor’s relationship is like with Ngisaveni as he has been relegated to the background in anything concerning the famous comedian, his mother, father, and stepbrothers.
Trevor’s Current Relationship with His Parents and Extended Family Members
Like Trevor Noah, Isaac Shingange attended the Roman Catholic school in Johannesburg, Maryvale College which exists till today. Unlike his abusive father, he was best friends and a true brother to his half-siblings while they were growing up. Apart from their skin colors, one couldn’t tell that they had different fathers. However, aside from this, not much is known about Isaac other than the obvious fact that he became publicly known for being Trevor Noah’s stepbrother.
Andrew, just like his brother, was also born and raised in Joburg. It is believed that like his brothers, he also attended Maryvale College but beyond this. Recent reports have it that he is now a married man with children but nothing much is known about him. He got famous for being the brother of Trevor Noah and has remained so.
Going by the much we know, Trevor’s brothers Andrew Shingange and Isaac Shingange live in South Africa and have been relatively off the media radar. It is believed that they all have a cordial if not a brotherly relationship with their famous brother, mother, and perhaps stepfather (Robert Noah, Trevor’s father).
Though their careers have not made them as famous as Trevor is, it is also believed that they are doing perfectly fine in their endeavors and have been out of trouble. On the other hand, nothing is known about their abusive father who was thrown into jail after he shot their mother and went hunting for Trevor. Perhaps, he has had a change of attitude but he is nowhere in the picture of recent happenings in and around Trevor’s life, that of his mother or even his stepbrothers.