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SA: 20 years of democracy and?

18 March 2014, 07:35

The year 2014 marks 20 years of democracy in South Africa since the end of Apartheid. Many will surely celebrate this momentous occasion as a great achievement. And do not get me wrong South Africa has come a long way since the oppressive regime of Apartheid. However as we mark 20 years of freedom I begin to wonder whether we are truly free?

Statistic SA has stated that in the third quarter of 2013 that the unemployment rate was at 40,6% amongst black people and 7,9% amongst white people. Furthermore statistics SA stated that whites earn 6 times more than black people in South Africa. What is troublesome about these facts is that the poor which are largely black continue to be left out of the economy and treated as second class citizens. Since 1994 there has been little redistribution and redress.

To celebrate 20 years of democracy is to induce an ‘atleast’ society in which people say ‘at least’ we have democracy so we do not need  to fight for our land or ‘At least’ we have our freedom so we do not need to hold white privilege accountable.

As South Africa goes into its 5th election I begin to wonder about our freedom and our generation. I wonder whether my generation will produce the same calibre of revolutionary leaders as the generations before us? Will my generation take up the baton and become the leaders of now and not of the future? 

When I think of Nelson Mandela I realise the tremendous impact and value he has had on my life. Nelson Mandela’s life depicts how a man’s contribution to his country was able to accomplish one of the greatest moments in the world.

What leaves me worried is that we as young people have become apathetic to politics. The great ideas, minds and leaders in our generation are being lost to apathy.  It is at the height of these conditions where our human spirit as the next generation must be strong. It is at this very moment, like the youth of 1976, that we, as the next generation must develop our common struggle. This common struggle needs to stop look at why black people are poor and needs to start looking at why white people are rich.

I am always reminded of what Frantz Fanon said, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it.”  Have we given up the struggle because we have been accommodated into a system that was never constructed for us to begin with?

Many analysts argue that 2014 is the year that youth will be at the forefront of deciding the party that will govern South Africa. I argue that we have been lied too. We have been sold the idea that we can make a difference - that we can carpe diem into the future. We have been lied too.

The truth of the matter is that we can only liberate ourselves only if we are conscious of the struggle. We cannot wait for the ‘privileged’ to realise their ‘privilege’. We need to revolutionize engagement with privilege. 20 years later we need to do more. 

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