Sibongile Mafu

Love and Freedom

2013-05-08 14:08

Sibongile Mafu

Born free. To love whomever we want, however we want. This was one of the freedoms that was so desperately fought for, but as a young person right now I sometimes wonder about the differences in the love landscape now as opposed to when my parents were young.

As I grow up I find that a lot of what I like, and what my parents would like me to like is starting to clash. Their way of seeing things is not the only way of doing things, and that is alright. And letting them know that is important.

My mother often shows me photographs of her when she was younger, the days when she was fresh-faced, nubile and open to love, which she found with my father.  She'd tell me stories of their courtship through difficult circumstances in South Africa which made it even more romantic. She married him, had children and is now planning for their retirement. Clear steps, clear nuclear family steps.

Nelson Mandela and countless others spent all those days and nights in prison to perhaps give my generation a new option, one that may not necessarily include marriage. Now, I've always appreciated the traditional. I come from a family that respects "the right way to do things", and I'm in no way ruling out getting married somewhere down the line or lambasting anyone who chooses that route, but I’m starting to see, especially amongst young black people, that the traditional route is no longer the preferred one, and for many it takes a lot of courage to pursue that option. And for once, not going down that route does not mean one has failed in life, which I think more often than not has been the perception for way too long.

We now have access to options, life options, which our parents didn’t have, or rather many didn’t explore, in the past. These options mean that how we manage family, career and relationships has changed slightly.

We date a lot, sometimes more than one person at a time. We meet people online. Some have no intention to marry, and merging those decisions and lifestyle choices with the decisions and lifestyle choices our parents made can be very difficult and hard to explain to them. A lot more of us are becoming that independent aunt who never gets married, who was often judged by the rest of the family for living her life as she wanted to. That aunt who was a little more liberal than the rest, and explored the different ways she could find happiness outside of the traditional spaces.

An ongoing debate I have with my friends is whether you would introduce the person you're dating to your parents. Most respond with an adamant "no", saying that unless they're certain that this is a person they plan on spending a long time with, the parents don't need to know. You keep the information of who you’re with on a strictly need-to-know basis. This sometimes means a lot of ducking and diving and making life adjustments as you do everything in your power to make sure your loved ones don’t get to meet your other loved one until you're ready.

Now, perhaps in that sense we’ve held on to a few of the older generation's ideals in terms of respecting that all-important moment in time when you introduce your significant other to your parents. So in as much as a lot has changed, or at least, we’re more open about how a lot of us choose to live our lives differently.

And what a welcome change that is.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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