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18-year-olds on SA’s 18th Freedom Day

The Mail & Guardian asked 18-year-old South Africans, the born-frees, about what this Freedom Day means to them. Here are their responses:

I was born in January 1994. To me, Freedom Day means success for South Africa and its citizens. For the past 18 years the democratically elected government has not disappointed. Much has been done to improve the lives of previously disadvantaged people. We have seen a lot of improvement as far as humans rights are concerned. This day creates good emotions in me because it is the day when my country opened to a new page, when everyone was considered equal in the eyes of the law. The fact that my birth happened in the same year as our democracy gives me the impression that I was born along with change, so therefore I’m entitled to make change. It is a great honour to live in a democratic South Africa although most people are violating that: the youth abusing drugs, senior MPs fighting for power, the list is endless. All in all though, I’m happy to be part of the evolution. – Mhlengi Manqoba Ndlovu, Durban

My parents fought for freedom. They risked their lives so that I would grow up in an equal and just South Africa. They won their battle but they did not win the war. While politically we may be free, socio-economically we are not. My parents’ struggle continues and it falls to me and the youth around me to continue their fight. So until such time as all citizens of South Africa are economically equal, I will boycott Freedom Day, for we are not yet free. – Stuart Thembisile Lewis, Grahamstown

As a matric student, there is nothing better than an extra day off from school. However, I do embrace this annual celebration of the first non-racial democratic election that happened in the year I was born. It reminds me and the rest of the youth of the pain and struggle that took place so that today I can actually have the freedom to write about it for the world to see.

The road to democracy was a long and difficult one. It’s an experience I was not privy to, but the journey afterwards was a complicated one, just like growing up is. It’s such an achievement now that along with me, this country celebrates its 18 years of existence.

I was born into a free South Africa, a comfortable life with an ocean of opportunities to reach my potential. The generation before me was denied this. But I wonder: Is our freedom individualistic since poverty, unemployment, crime and other forms of discrimination continue to exist? I believe that we can and should work together to address the inequalities in our country so that every member of society is free. We should strive to achieve a better life for all. – Atiyyah Hameed, Polokwane

Freedom day is an exciting time of year for us “democracy babies”. We were the first year of children to be born into a free and democratic society. We have been brought up without race as a boundary and it is more common for us to describe someone by their height and the colour of their eyes than by the colour of their skin. April 27th marks a crucial day in history when freedom was attained and people stood up for themselves and demanded justice.

Freedom Day reminds us that we can accomplish anything together and gives us a sense of unity. It also reminds us of what other South Africans had to go through for us, and that we owe it to our country and to those freedom fighters to stand up for our rights and to not belittle anyone. This day is as much about freedom as it is about respect. People are afraid of what is different and often shun people and things who do not conform to them and so respect is vitally important if our country wants to remain free.

I believe that we are the country’s future and that people will look up to us because we are the first people to live without being oppressed or being oppressors. We have the world in our hands and soon we will be out of school and ready to improve SA. I also believe however, that we all need to be given equal opportunities no matter what race we belong to. SA belongs to all of us and now is the time to lay the past to rest, celebrate our victory as a nation and move forward to a brighter future for us all. Besides, it is not fair to punish members of our generation for the mistakes of the generation before. We are all free and should be given equal opportunity to shine. So come on SA youth, “let us live and strive for freedom and united we shall stand”. – Kate Moore, Cape Town


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  1. JC JC 27 April 2012

    This is absolute nonsens. I can’t even believe you publish this. SA is on its knees…

  2. Ian Dewar Ian Dewar 27 April 2012

    Aaaah. Such wisdom in our founding Rainbow youth raises my old spirit to new height.

    Thanks so much for your Freedom Day insights and inspiration guys.

  3. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 27 April 2012

    Do you REALLY think that kids are going to tell the truth of what they think to Adults? Get Real!

  4. Fiona Fiona 28 April 2012

    Lyndall and JC, did you even read all of the pieces here? There is such a diverse collection of views. That fact alone should give us pause for thought. How insulting that you accuse these young writers of lying. And how sad. More strength to their pens. And here’s to more opportunities to read their thoughts – perhaps adults will begin to listen.

  5. Cyber dog Cyber dog 28 April 2012

    @fiona: actually, there is no diverse views here at all, it’s the same rubbish, regurgitated from the media. It’s called propaganda. I am willing to put down a substantial wager that any of the views that represent what the majority really felt were completely suppressed. Kinda goes in the face of freedom, doesn’t it? Especially when all the government departments are clearly failing everyone, and those who are the poorest get to get screwed even more than ever before. The real question is, can you ever truly achieve freedom with the majority being uneducated and so deeply entrenched in destructive cultures that they cannot see daylight. That is just a pipe dream, taken advantage of by a few individuals, mostly in the government, to enrich themselves while they can. My question to all the 18 year olds who give their view on freedom day, what is freedom, and where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

  6. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 28 April 2012


    When my children was at school I would point out all the inaccuracies in their history textbooks and tell them NOT to write what I said, to write what the teacher wanted to hear, but to know the truth.

    The children are not lying – they are practicing self-preservation from the hypocritical adult world.

  7. nguni nguni 29 April 2012

    So what, dear 18 year-olds, do you think of our dear president releasing all his criminal buddies to celebrate Freedom Day? To ‘free up space in the overcrowded prisons’ nogal! Hilarious, not so? Him and his buddies are so drunk with power they don’t bother with good excuses anymore. But doesn’t it give you a warm feeling of confidence for the future? If it does, check. More likely to be you wetting you pants because you know what this means for our future..

  8. Fiona Fiona 29 April 2012

    We must be reading different words then. Strange. While it is true that youth is a time for optimism and hope (not that all of us lose those with age) and much of what is written here is couched in the language of the young (thank goodness), there is much that reveals a healthy questioning of norms, and an unblinkered view of their South African realities (and, yes, there are many South African realities): “although most people are violating that: the youth abusing drugs, senior MPs fighting for power, the list is endless.” “While politically we may be free, socio-economically we are not.” “So until such time as all citizens of South Africa are economically equal, I will boycott Freedom Day, for we are not yet free. ” “Is our freedom individualistic since poverty, unemployment, crime and other forms of discrimination continue to exist?”

  9. tony A tony A 29 April 2012

    The youth are clearly immature in their responses.
    The systematic destruction of our beloved country by the previous so called freedom fighters now in power cannot be reason for rejoicing. They have installed separation of the races in the name of BEE or affirmative action yet the ones they now employ are totally incapable and not suited to the positions they occupy.
    Law and order, health, education,restrictive labour laws that protect the lazy, plundering of state coffers for the benefit of the ANC and its pals all to the detriment of South Africans at large are reasons NOT to celebrate political so called freedom.
    This is NOT DEMOCRACY this government does not know the meaning of the word.

  10. Tarupiwa Tarupiwa 29 April 2012

    Freedom. What freedom? Who is free? Only the politicians have freedom to loot, misuse and abuse in the name of the people – though no one will ever know which people – for, the people they talk of are mere ghosts in their minds.

  11. manquat manquat 30 April 2012

    How does SA fix it’s huge income inequality gap? This is the pivotal question. How are the leaders going to do this? This is an important point made by Stuart. As long as the playing field is unequal, what is there to celebrate? How can we celebrate with an unemployment rate of 25%? How can these youth celebrate with no job certainty?

    I hope that the ANC fulfills it’s slogan: “A better life for all” May all South Africans(indian, colored, white and black), experience peace, success and prosperity.

    The best way they can do this, is by not interferring so much in labor legislation etc. Leave the fee market to operate on it’s own. Hands off!!
    One more thing, “Let the best man win.” Regardless of skin color etc.

  12. blogroid blogroid 30 April 2012

    My favourite part was “I was born along with change, so i’m entitled to make change.” Given the general range of gloom about the young and the education system and and and…. it was a pleasure to read such innocently disingenuous material… and such inherent truth.

    Those who see it with the cynicism born of broken dreams should question whether theirs were as innocent: or, whether they even remember them, as we all make our way, chaotically, through this post-modern world where we forget the name and content of the film that has just moved us deeply, by the time we reach the place where we parked our cars.

    These are the people and the generation for whom i have written the Jonker Memorandum at and because of the clamour from those who cannot see our evolution into a post-racial society i must present my tale as a unique podcast cyber-serial…. Youth rocks

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