Something our parents, the media and indeed political parties throw in our faces every chance they get (even when some of us technically are not what you would call a “born-free”) is that the freedom we now enjoy today also doubles as the cross we have to bear.
We are almost universally expected to do better because our heightened potential. Not only are there are no longer laws in place that place us at a disadvantage based on the amount of melanin in our skin but we are also faced with an imaginable amount of opportunity in South African & global society.
The ANC has campaigned on the notion that South Africa has “a good story to tell” and that we are much better off now than we were twenty years ago. When you think about it, most – if not all – of us would rather face the challenges we have today than those of the apartheid era. For that, we do respect what they went through even though we do not always say it.
Institutional racism may not be what is holding our generation back but we DO NOT have it easy and WE DO NOT all lack direction in our lives. The older generation just needs to understand that the circumstances of our lives are just different. We are free. Free to dream, free to interact and free to make the moves they never had the chance to make at our age, however, not all of us have gotten a taste of that freedom quite yet.
On the #LiveVIPZA election road-trip I was part of yesterday, the Live Magazine election team and I came across an appalling situation at a voting station in Atteridgeville, Pretoria. I am embarrassed to admit that I watched all this happening from the safety of the VIPMobile but the extreme darkness that the residents of that area were voting in was not at all welcoming. Witnessing them relying only on candle light and cellphone torches for visibility one would at least assume that a) the IEC would have made provisions for this area and their lack of electricity/light and b) such conditions would put people off the idea voting. But unlike some of the other areas we had visited throughout the day, voter turn-out in that particular area was actually extremely high. Even in the midst of such chaos, people still had the drive to make their mark despite how disheartened they were by what had happened throughout their voting day. Despite this not being the reality that some of us have to face on a daily basis, it remains just that… a reality.
Education, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, access to information and cross-racial interaction essentially form the foundation of the life of an urban, modern-day “youth.” Unless one lives in an area where these pillars are obstructed in some way or another as we experienced in the township of Alexandra too, what will one be driven to fight for? The rights of others? So that they too can enjoy the charms of a life born from freedom? Unfortunately, not all of us are that selfless. Helping others may not be your “thing” but is it that hard to envision a better life for others as a better life for all?
As a young person on South Africa, no matter where you are from, what is it that you fight for twenty years into our democracy?
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