That Time Trevor Noah Burned Down Someone’s House

If you burned down someone’s house, would your response years later to having done that be something like this:

I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I still don’t. The lawyer in me maintains that I am completely innocent. There were matches and there was a magnifying glass and there was a mattress and then, clearly, a series of unfortunate events. Things catch fire sometimes. That’s why there are fire brigade.

If you are Trevor Noah, the answer is yes, and that isn’t some off-the-cuff response, that is in his book Born a Crime. After reading that, I haven’t felt like he is someone worth paying attention to and things he has said recently have reinforced that for me.

It is important to note the context that he says he was seven years old at the time he burned down the house. Here is more detail on how he describes having burned down the house:

One thing I loved doing at the time was using a magnifying glass to burn my name into pieces of wood. You had to aim the lens and get the focus just right and then you got the flame and then you moved it slowly and you could burn shapes and letters and patterns.

That afternoon I was teaching this kid how to do it. We were inside the servants’ quarters, which was really more of a toolshed added on to the back of the house, full of wooden ladders, buckets of old paint, turpentine.

At one point we took a break to go get a snack. I set the magnifying glass and the matches on the mattress and we left. When we came back a few minutes later we found the shed had one of those doors that self-locks from the inside. We couldn’t get back in without going to get his mother, so we decided to run around and play in the yard. After a while I noticed smoke coming out of the cracks in the window frame.

The flames moved quickly. Soon the roof was on fire, and from there the blaze spread to the main house, and the whole thing burned and burned and burned. Smoke was billowing into the sky.

Me and this kid and the maid, we ran out to the road and watched as the firemen tried to put it out, but by the time they did, it was too late. There was nothing left but a charred brick-and-mortar shell, roof gone, and gutted from the inside.