The Life Story of Patricia Noah Before and After Becoming Trevor Noah’s Mother

Patricia Noah went against the law of her time when she fell in love with a white foreigner during the peak of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Her romance led to the birth of a colored child whose identity she managed to conceal for many years but in the end, had to brace up to face whatever consequences that may arise as the boy grew older and could no longer be hidden. Was it really worth it, definitely, and did she ever regret it? Trevor Noah can testify against that.

As her son turned into a widely acclaimed comedian, his fans can’t help but inquire about his origin and the identity of his parents. In 2016, Trevor Noah provided an all-exclusive autobiography titled Born a Crime where the hero in the story was no other person than Patricia Noah – his mother, who he says is the reason behind his success.

Meet Patricia Noah – The Mother Of The Comedy Legend Trevor Noah

While her actual date of birth is not known, Patricia Noah was born in South Africa to Temperance and France Noah. Although it has not been confirmed how many siblings Patricia had, it is known that she was the middle child of her family. More so, she has been described as the odd one in their family as she was quite rebellious, stubborn, and a troublemaker. Her mother literally refers to her as a girl child who never behaved the way girls do.

As a young child of about 9 years old, Patricia asked her mother if she could go live with her father since he was not living in the same city as them. Her mother gladly consented to it, only for the dad to send her to her aunt in the Xhose region. Twelve years passed before she saw her parents again, for her aunt was one of those persons who were skilled in handling deviant children.

At her aunt’s house in Transkei, she lived with 14 cousins in a hut, without water or electricity, and money was scarce. Patricia and her cousins barely had enough food to eat, and when they had food, it resulted in a survival of the fittest – they had to fight each other for it. Sometimes, she would steal food from the animals or settle for anything she could lay her hands on just to feel something in her stomach.

She Managed To Get A Formal Education Despite Her Rough Upbringing

The only thing that brought life to Transkei for Patricia was the Missionary School where she was taught the skill of reading and writing and the English Language in general. When she was old enough, she went to work in a factory close by, where she was paid a meal per day, so no more fighting for food with her cousins. However, Patricia went back to Soweto when her aunt became ill, and while she was there, she enrolled in the secretarial school at age 21. Her stay in Soweto was quite short-lived as she relocated to Johannesburg in a bid to escape being stuck in the cycle of poverty because of what was called ‘Black Tax’.

During apartheid, there were not many jobs available for black people, the men had to work as manual laborers on farms, in factories, or in mines, while the women worked as maids or in factories alongside the men. Patricia did not go with the norm, as she sought for a typing job – these were usually reserved for the whites alongside other skilled jobs or executive positions, but the government in the 1980s was being pressured by international communities towards the unjust nature of apartheid, so they had to ease the restrictions on labor. This gave Patricia a chance to work as a secretary for a large pharmaceutical company in the white area of Johannesburg.

Patricia Met Trevor’s Dad While Living In Joburg

Although Patricia had some sort of privilege to work in Johannesburg, it was still considered unlawful for blacks to reside there but she went against the law again to find a home there. Since she was breaking the rules by living in Johannesburg, Patricia had to look for a way to live there stealthily. Initially, she slept in public restrooms until she met some Xhosa prostitutes who were pros at the game, so they taught her how to live in the city. They helped her disguise herself as a maid so she could be mobile and do her job undetected. They also took her to some white men who offered up apartments for rent, at a price though, and most of which was not monetary. Fortunately, Patricia’s job paid so well that she had enough to pay rent and not offer her body.

Despite all the training and disguise, she was often caught and arrested, because Black maids were made to carry a document that validates their labor status and this gives them the right to move around the city – Patricia did not have such a document. Fortunately, she earned enough to pay the fine and on her release, she would go on doing the same thing.

The area Patricia Noah lived in was called Hillbrow and it was there she met Robert, a Swiss-German expatriate who was almost twice her age. The Whites at Hillbrow cared less about apartheid, which made the city conducive for the blacks in the community. At the onset of their relationship, Robert was more of a casual friend to Patricia than her lover, but one night she talked about having a child with him. She told him that she wanted a baby and not a marriage. She further said that she would not demand anything from him in raising the child and that he could be in the child’s life only if he wanted, but Robert declined the offer and said he didn’t want a child. At that time, an interracial baby was considered a crime, this explains why Trevor Noah’s book was titled, ‘Born a Crime’. It was actually illegal for black and whites to fall in love with each other. The punishment was a jail term of 5 years, but Patricia did want a white child regardless. Robert later succumbed and they both had Trevor on February 20th, 1984.

Unfortunately, the lovers never lived together as a couple and Trevor did not get to be with his father as his mother relocated and rented herself a flat in Joubert Park after his birth. Nonetheless, Robert would usually go out of his way to meet up with his son in public places. However, Robert moved to Cape Town when Trevor was 13 years and they lost contact for several years.

Patricia Noah
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How Did Patricia Noah Escape Jail Time Despite Her Romance With A White Man?

It was gathered that while on her labor bed, Patricia told the doctors that the father of her child was from a different country, in order to explain her white baby. The doctors accepted her story and filled “another country” in Trevor’s birth certificate for the nationality of the father. For the occupation of the father, space was left empty.

At the initial stage of Trevor’s life, Patricia found it easy concealing him as she would wrap him in swaddle as a baby to cover him, but as age began to gain on him, it became difficult to hide him. She resulted in acting as a maid to Trevor’s alledged parents as she would get a white lady in her building who agreed to pretend to be his mother when they went out. The lady who usually goes along with her charade was called Queen and Patricia would fake being her maid, just to cover Trevor’s identity. Peradventure she took Noah out alone, she would pretend that the child was not hers if the police came by.

Patricia practically raised Trevor by locking him in the room most of the time and this shielded him from the prying eyes of the law, for she feared that he would be taken away from her and put in an orphanage. Worse still, she might be punished for going against the law with regard to the ban on relationships between whites and blacks.

Patricia Noah Later Got Married To Abel Ngisaveni 

In 1992, Patricia met Abel Ngisaveni, a mechanic at Mighty Mechanics garage. Their paths crossed because Patricia’s Volkswagen was always demanding repairs, so she invariably had to spend a lot of time at the garage fixing her car. Love grew between them and they decided to explore further. Trevor, who was around 8 years old at the time, had a bad feeling about Abel and so was against the relationship and his mother’s decision to marry him. However, the marriage went on as planned, and after signing the marriage papers, Abel and Patricia officially became man and wife.

When Trevor was 9 years old, he got a half-brother named Andrew. Things continued to move smoothly till Abel turned a new leaf and suddenly began to go on a drinking spree. After drinking, he would return home and be violent to his family. Patricia had to move out to live with her mother when it became unbearable but Abel came back begging, asking for his wife. Patricia was convinced to return to what turned out to be another round of immense beating that later spread to Trevor when the family business, Mighty Mechanics, collapsed.

Patricia moved out again but this time around, she lived in a shed within the compound and as they were trying to mend their marriage, she welcomed another son – Isaac. Unfortunately, things never got better between her and Abel so she moved out of the house with her sons to a rented apartment where she wanted to start life afresh. In 1996, she finalized her divorced from Abel.

She Survived Being Shot In The Head

After leaving Abel, Patricia got married to Sfiso Khoza and was living a peaceful life until someday in 2009. On that fateful Sunday, when she and her boys (apart from Trevor) were coming back from church, they were accosted by an abusive drunk, Abel, who claimed that Patricia had ruined his life. While arguing with her, he pulled out a gun and pointed it at her.

Andrew tried to tame Abel, as he had always done, but this time it did not work. Abel threatened to shoot him and on seeing the certainty in his eyes, Andrew gave way. Abel later started shooting and Patricia took a bullet. A shot Patricia yelled for her children to run as Abel came towards her on the floor and tried to shoot again. Fortunately, his gun jammed.

On seeing this, Patricia pushed him and made a run for the car and Andrew followed suit. Just as she started the car, Abel fired again and this time, the bullet went through Patricia’s head; he had shot her through the rear window. Andrew wasted no time in getting his mother out of the driver’s seat and zoomed off to the hospital. Trevor later got news of the shooting.

Patricia Noah was close to 50 years of age at the time of the shooting but she survived the attack, because both of the bullets passed through her body, missing all of her vital organs. Even the bullet that hit her head went through the back of her head and came out through her nose, missing her spine and brain. Since she survived the incident, Abel got a minimal sentence as the case was judged as an attempted murder case.

What Role Did Patricia Play In Trevor Noah’s Rise To Fame?

Trevor Noah named his comedy special on Netflix, Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia because he feels indebted to this woman who has a major influence on the path that he ended up taking. She taught him to use humor as a means to cope with injustice. For example, even while on her hospital bed, as Trevor came around, he admitted to her his feeling of rage and she encouraged him to not feel so, pointing out that Abel was just a victim, who is to be pitied because he has subscribed to a wrong view of masculinity.

Patricia had learned humor and forgiveness, and this she passed down to her son. Trevor talks about all the funny things and faces his mother puts up. He even said that she was the first person in the family to crack a joke even after being shot. She said, “don’t cry, look on the bright side, you are now officially the best-looking person in the family”.


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