- South African comedian Trevor Noah was announced this week as the replacement for Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show
- How he was brought up in little more than a shack in apartheid Soweto, where Nelson Mandela had a home
- His white father was not on the scene and his black mother brought him up in his grandmother’s house, where he slept on the couch
- His mother worked in a chemical factory and was adamant about discipline and education but could not afford to send him to university
- Noah got a job at a local TV station and got his chance when someone dared him to go up on stage and perform
- Noah’s stepfather was violent and would beat his mother, Patricia, with bicycle frames in front of neighbors
- Eventually the stepfather shot Patricia in the face and left her for dead then went to find Noah, 25 – but failed and ended up in prison
- In exclusive interviews Noah’s mother and 88-year-old grandmother tell of their pride at ‘mischief maker’ boy becoming star in America
Trevor Noah’s stepfather hunted him down and wanted to kill him after shooting Trevor’s mother in the face in a fit of rage, Daily Mail Online can reveal.
Towering mechanic Abel Shingange thought he had killed his wife Patricia at their home in Johannesburg, South Africa after a violent row in 2009.
And as his temper boiled over relatives say he continued on the warpath and, armed with a handgun, tried to find Noah who was 25 at the time.
But the comedian’s grandmother says Noah – announced earlier this week as Jon Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show – was not easy to find and escaped with his life.
In an exclusive interview Nomalizo Noah told Daily Mail Online: ‘After shooting the mother Abel went around with a gun trying to find Trevor, but Trevor was always here, there and everywhere, performing on stage, you never knew where he was.
‘So when Patricia’s husband began to hunt him he couldn’t find him.’
The sprightly 88-year-old added: ‘They are very lucky to be alive, thank you to God, Abel was a horrible, horrible man, I hated him.’
This comes as Daily Mail Online reveals never before seen childhood photos of Noah who grew up in a poverty stricken Soweto township in South Africa.
We take a look at the strict but loving upbringing of America’s new face of comedy.
And we can also reveal that Noah’s mom Patricia named her son Trevor in honor of her favorite star John Travolta, ‘Trevor was the closest I could get to Travolta’, she confessed.
But it was Patricia’s relationship with Noah’s violent and abusive step-dad that would leave an indelible mark on the young comic’s life.
Patricia’s former husband beat her with old bicycle frames in public and in front of her staff, slapped her, chased her down the street as she fled with their youngest child, and smashed phones and furniture.
And moving away from the family home in 2009, after she became engaged to her current husband, Sfiso Khoza, almost cost her her life.
She says jealous Shingange tracked her down and shot her in the face and back, shattering her jaw, piercing her skull, nose and ear, and leaving her unable to speak properly.
Minutes before she was shot, Patricia said her youngest son Isaac, then about seven, pleaded with his father to stop, saying: ‘Daddy, please do not shoot mommy.’
But his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Shingange was sentenced to three years of correctional supervision by the Jeppe Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to an attempted murder charge in August 2009.
He claimed that he only became aware that his wife had divorced him in October 2009 and he went to court to ask for it to be reversed.
Aside from almost killing Patricia, Shingange also fired several shots at her husband, Khoza, whom she married in July 2009.
During the trial, the court heard that after the shooting, Noah called Shingange and the 52-year-old threatened to come after his step-son and kill him.
It’s believed Noah then fled to Los Angeles on tour after getting his mother’s blessing to leave.
But the devoted star stayed in South Africa long enough to keep a bedside vigil for his badly wounded mom in hospital.
Mom Patricia told Daily Mail Online: ‘I was shot in the face and back. The bullets went through the nose and passed my jugular and one narrowly missed my spine.
‘I am lucky to be alive. When God writes he has to write for humans and he gives you a message that God is bigger than death.’
Mom-of-three Patricia was rushed to hospital and she said her son paid for life-saving private health care.
She was treated under a different name because she feared Shingange would go there to ‘finish the job’.
‘I was very grateful. The minute Trevor paid for me in that hospital, to go private, my prayer was that after three days I’m out of this hospital,’ she said.
‘As a mother I was determined never to use or to eat from my children, but this made me eat my words and I was determined to be out of hospital quickly.
‘The doctor’s said it was a miracle that I was alive. They were scared because they had never seen it (my condition) before.
‘Trevor was by my bedside holding my hand the whole time.’
But churchgoer Patricia has since put the horrific attack behind her: ‘I’m a person of peace,’ she said.
‘I took it as one of those lessons that life teaches you, that God is greater than bullets.’
‘I am a very positive person, a strong person, I can rise above. As long as I can regain my stability and regain my joy, I am a victor.
‘This is why I am happy with Trevor in his success, because he suffered, to see his mother being abused by another man is terrible.
‘What my ex-husband did to me in the early years when Trevor was just a boy is possibly what Trevor wanted to do to him.
‘Trevor was thinking, ‘well you are too big for me to hit you’, so he must have been frustrated.
‘But I do not know how he truly felt, he is not a person who opens up to his mother.’
Strict-disciplinarian Patricia, 56, who now runs a property firm in Johannesburg, says she kept Noah on the ‘straight and narrow’ during those tough times and never witnessed him throwing tantrums as many teens would do when faced with adversity.
‘You cannot do that with a mother like me, you cannot throw tantrums with a mother like me, you have to be a child until you are out of my control, that’s the way it is,’ she said.
‘I’m your mother, I am not your friend, I will break you before you break the rules. I did my job, I kept him safe.’
Details of the violent relationship are laid bare in papers before the high court in Johannesburg, where Shingange applied to have his divorce from Patricia Noah rescinded in 2009.
Patricia divorced him in 1996, but they continued to live together in the Johannesburg suburb of Highlands North.
In 2003 – due to the years of physical and emotional abuse – Patricia was forced to move into a back-yard shack on the property with her then 15-month-old son Isaac, where they lived for seven years.
Patricia, who also has another son Andrew, says Trevor stopped visiting her at this time because it was too much for him to see his mother going through hell.
But these days the pair are as close as ever.
In January, Noah shot to fame in America when he appeared on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, a first for a South African comedian.
The 31-year-old is based in Los Angeles and will soon sit in the chair once occupied by Jon Stewart on America’s most popular satirical news show.
It’s a million miles away from his upbringing in a tiny rundown house in a Soweto township.
The son of a white Swiss father and a black South African mother, Noah struggled growing up in a divided country where children in the slums would scream when they saw him because they had ‘never seen anything like him’.
His parents couldn’t marry because of the overwhelming fear of being persecuted during a time of incredibly strained racial tension.
Basic: The home in Soweto where Nomaliza Frances Noah still lives and where Trevor was brought up for much of his childhood. He and his cousins shared the couch to sleep on
In ‘Born a Crime’ – the routine he now tours the world with – he describes how mom Patricia and him would walk on the other side of the road to his white father Robert because they were forbidden from being seen together.
He and his biological father were estranged for 12 years until a documentary charting Noah’s rise to fame showed their long-awaited reunion.
The director of You Laugh But It’s True described how ‘marriage was never on the agenda’ for the mixed race lovers and that Noah’s mother simply ‘wanted a child’.
David-Paul Meyer told Daily Mail Online: ‘It is difficult to describe but it was kind of a hippie thing in that she didn’t really want a relationship, but she wanted a baby.
‘Even now there are very few mixed race people in South Africa so just the fact that Trevor exists is incredible.’
Noah describes his mother as a ‘hero’ for risking arrest by risking arrest and fines for mixing with a white man.
At birth Noah, bizarrely, was named in honor of his mom’s favorite move star John Travolta.
Patricia said: ‘When I gave him the name Trevor I looked forward to him being a TV star.
‘I called him Trevor because I looked forward to John Travolta being on stage, to his dancing and his films and Trevor was closest I could get to Travolta.’
But in those early days Patricia, who worked at a chemical factory, struggled to raise her son and he was dispatched to stay with his grandmother in Soweto.
Daily Mail Online visited Noah’s first township home in Orlando East, a poverty stricken area a couple of miles from where Nelson Mandela once lived.
His sprightly gran Nomalizo Noah, a retired factory worker, burst in to life when discussing her ‘favorite’ grandchild.
And she says the funnyman often had his family in hysterics even as a tiny kid.
‘Trevor was full of energy, full of life, full of jokes. Oh he was so funny. He would change that sarcasm of yours and turn it in to a joke and everybody would be laughing the house down, you would be the fool.
‘And he was so naughty, the minute I would go down like this to take off my slippers he would jump.
‘He would say, ‘come and catch me, come and catch me’. Oh Trevor.’
Mrs Noah, who last saw her grandson before Christmas last year, showed us the pull out sofa bed she still owns in the front room and where Noah slept in his formative years.
He stayed with his gran up until he attended H.A Jacks Primary School in Highlands North and he went to stay with his mom.
And Mrs Noah recalls a pleasant, ‘peaceful’ boy.
‘He had no grudges with anyone,’ she said. ‘If you hated Trevor you were just wasting your time, he would come and hug you, “kiss me, kiss me”. He would say, “what’s wrong with you, why is your face so sour?”.
‘He would say, “if you make the bullies laugh they won’t knock your teeth out”, he’s at peace with himself, you would never make him angry.’
Flicking through family photos Mrs Noah fondly remembers making her grandson his favorite spaghetti dish on her coal powered stove.
‘He loved spaghetti and pizza, he liked to mimic Pavarotti at the table,’ she said.
‘He liked to mimic everyone, he would mimic me all the time.
‘He really enjoyed watching TV and he mimicked the people on there. He liked different people and different cultures.’
Mrs Noah, who has three children and nine grandchildren, says she would take Noah to church every Sunday.
‘We really enjoyed church, that’s where we belonged,’ she said.
And she added that her grandson was ‘very intelligent’ and liked to ‘read a lot’.
After leaving primary school Noah attended Maryvale College secondary school, also in Highland North in Johannesburg.
His job in school was to close all the windows but one day the mischievous boy purposely left them open so he could come back to ‘steal some kid’s lunch’.
‘He always had the best curry,’ Noah told GQ magazine in an interview last year.
After school Noah didn’t go to university because, he told GQ: ‘My mom said that I would have to come up with half the tuition, so that put a spanner in the works.’
Instead he took a gap year before falling in to comedy after taking work as a TV extra and someone dared him to go up on stage.
Mrs Noah – who her grandson calls ‘Gogo’ meaning grandmother in their native tongue – says she’s very proud of Noah and believes The Daily Show is his ‘big chance’ to shine.
But the 88-year-old says she doubts the comic will last on the hit program which attracts two million viewers a night.
‘I know nothing about comedy, but Trevor is always on the move, looking for different characters, different places,’ she said. ‘I can’t see him staying long.’
Noah’s mom Patricia is equally as proud of her son’s achievement.
‘Trevor has caused Africa’s drum to beat again, he has encouraged many to walk on the water and stand on the sea,’ she said.
‘He has always been a big thinker, he has never been limited.
‘I tried to encourage him to be the best that he can be wherever he is.’
Noah was always a ‘big dreamer’ according to Patricia but she said her son would never have dreamt of moving to America.
‘We never had any family member who had done that, in those days it wasn’t an African thing to think about crossing the border, only politicians would cross the border.
‘But Trevor is a man he would never discuss these things with his mama right from the beginning as a young boy.
‘He kept his emotions close.’
Patricia admits she was a disciplinarian with her three children including Noah.
But she agrees with her mom to say the star was ‘naughty, naughty, naughty’ as a young boy.
She said: ‘He was so naughty. When I said no, it was yes for him. When you say don’t, it was do for him. He was a strong willed character.
‘He was rough with other kids, fight with them. He was naughty within the family, naughty with his cousins.
‘It was minor things and he would talk back. He was the kind of a child who wanted to do his thing, testing your strength.’
Asked if Noah ever ran away from home, Patricia said: ‘No, no, no, you would never do that with a mother like me, I’d find you before the Government finds you.’
But Patricia said that a young Noah carefully looked after his possessions and kept a very tidy bedroom.
‘He takes after my sister, he is extreme neat and tidy, he is my extreme opposite,’ she said.
‘His room was clean, neat and tidy and he looked after his toys.’
When it came to girls Noah kept them a secret from his strict mother.
‘I think that girl would be in trouble because you’re not introduced to me until he is finished schooling, Trevor knew that,’ Patricia said.
‘He would hide them, everything must be in his own corner, in his own time.
‘But I was very strict with him. My philosophy is to learn from life, past life and you will be a stable person.’
For Noah life is good.
Speaking in the 2011 documentary You Laugh But It’s True he said of his new life in America: ‘I’ve just got that feeling that anything can happen here. Like your wildest dreams can become true.’
It appears Noah is final realizing those dreams.