Telling the untold story of the first generation South African Youth.
The youth of South Africa can be represented through many narratives like the 1976 Soweto Uprising that showed the strength of young people fighting against oppression, the powerful #FeesMustFall movement by students or by the 55.2% youth unemployment rate reported by Stats SA. It is our everyday achievements and struggles as the youth in a South Africa alive with possibilities.
They are so many stories to be told about the youth of our country that have inspired us, shocked us and amazed us a nation in the past 25 years of democracy. The story of the first generation South African is not often told; we almost never hear about the youth whose parents migrated to SA, the ones that eventually naturalized and those who were birthed by migrants that we know as first generation South Africans.
In celebration of youth month, our 6th democratic election and because we need to constantly tell our stories as young people, we interviewed Codi Nkulu, a first generation South African young voter. The part-time student has Congolese roots with parents who migrated in 1990 after his father received a bursary to study in South Africa. Codi was born in Hammanskraal in 1993 and moved to Johannesburg shortly after he was born. We spoke to Codi about what it’s like being a first generation South African, what he thought of the recent elections and his hopes for the future.
Did you vote and if so, why was it important?
I did vote because it is my democratic right as a citizen of the country and what happens in SA directly affects me.
Does the party you voted for represent you and your needs as a young first generation South African?
According to the manifesto, the party I voted for does address my needs as a young African, not only as a first Generation South African.
What have been the challenges of being a first generation South African?
The challenge was having an identity crisis, often questioning if I was South African or Congolese. Growing up was tough because I tried to identify with two worlds – the world with my friends and the one at home. I now identify myself as African, regardless of the origins of my “Africanicity”.
Do you think that being a South African citizen comes with privilege and opportunity?
They have been government grants, employment opportunities, scholarships and bursary opportunities given as some of the advantages of having the green ID and being a South African citizen.
Xenophobic attacks have been an ongoing issue in this country. Have you experienced xenophobia and if so, what was your experience?
I am a Pan-Africanist and I believe in a united Africa for all. Citing Julius Malema, the borders that were placed were by colonialists, we should not be confined by them. I believe in the documentation and legal freedom of movement. Together, we are stronger and I believe in not relying on western aid but in finding ways to realize each other’s strengths to make Africa stronger.
What do you see for the future in South Africa after the election?
I think we are going through a reparation stage, dealing with a lot of issues that were unaddressed like land reform and redistribution, job opportunities, xenophobia and undocumented migrants which go hand in hand. If these issues are addressed, we can grow as a young 25-year-old nation. This is the time for everybody to contribute positively to individual and national growth.