Our cherished freedoms

2017-04-30 05:59

City Press asks youngsters who are now the same age as the country’s democracy about the freedoms they celebrate. They all believe dreams can come true.

Keabetsoe Mokoena

‘Iwas born in Pretoria, Soshanguve, in my grandmother Elizabeth’s house.

I had an amazing upbringing in a family full of love and respect. I learnt that, without love and support in a family, nothing else matters.

About three months ago, I landed a job at an insurance company, and I have also just enrolled at Unisa for a degree.

Finding a job was hard.

Some people in my generation believe that, by going to school and obtaining a qualification, job opportunities will come rolling in without them having to look for them.

It’s the opposite. If one wants a job, one has to look. Put in the time and the effort, and something will come up.

We expect to start in the highest positions, forgetting that we all have to start somewhere. Start small, work hard and your efforts will be noticed.

Life as a born-free in the middle class is all I know. Having the title “born-free” is very liberating and brings a sense of relief.

But being a middle class born-free is difficult if you let lazy peers’ voices get inside your head – peers who do not see themselves as being as successful as you, or who find a way to put you down for trying to better yourself.

I’ve also realised that misery needs company and I cannot let that get to me. This is my own race to run.

Black tax hasn’t been much of a problem for me. If anything, I find it amusing.

Going to my grandmother’s house in the township and finding uncles and aunts who see me as an ATM really does make me chuckle.

I don’t think I have more freedoms than others.

The term ‘born-free’, which is one that we have been given, often makes people feel entitled to a lot more than we actually have.

The difference between myself and someone born in 1993 is just months – nothing more or less. We all need to work hard.

Freedom is being myself in a country that doesn’t find fault in me being exactly that; it’s letting me make my own decisions without being judged by my sexual preference.

Being a born-free means being born in a time when growing up black isn’t frowned upon. Growing up black is growing up in a rainbow nation and a free country.

I know the kind of life I want to live. My hopes and dreams are for a fulfilling life.

I’d like to become a stronger African woman who is successful in her own right, and I am going to put effort into it.I would like government to offer better education to South Africa’s youth and better fund upcoming projects that seem promising for the country’s economy.”

Refiloe Leballo

‘Iwas born in Emalahleni and now I’m employed and furthering my studies. I created my own opportunities and went out and knocked on every door that was willing to open for me.

I honestly believe you are who you make yourself – we were not born middle class.

Freedom for me means empowerment, and liberation from physical, spiritual and emotional constraints. I believe you’re not free if your mind is trapped.


Economic freedom is another prospect, and the elimination of corruption and fraud would be a step towards that.

I’d love us to be able to mass produce and support South African products to decrease imports, which have a negative effect on our economy.

I am lucky enough to have parents who support me in every decision I make. Growing up was pure joy.

I’m lucky enough to have grown up with both parents. They were firm on discipline, which sucked at the time, but that has shaped me into who I am today.

My current job is a stepping stone in the direction I’m heading, and I couldn’t be happier about my decisions.

My lifetime goals are to complete a master’s degree in strategic management and become a strategist and project manager.

I want to be the brains behind a mass construction movement in South Africa. I plan to have achieved all this in 10 years, then I’ll build a family to pass it on to.

I would like my country to be more equal. We need unity and we must respect each other.”

Lebogang Nkhabelane

‘Iwas born in Soshanguve, Block BB. Growing up wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed being a child. I have two younger brothers and an elder brother.

I rarely got what I wished for, but I was an understanding child and knew there was no money available.

I used to eat lunch at school that was provided by a feeding scheme when I had no lunch box or money.

I used to walk a long distance to school, but I still went because my mother once told me that the only way to overcome poverty was to get an education.

My mother is the one from whom I learnt a lot of things, such as never giving up. She started working as a professional nurse at the age of 38.

She was a domestic worker before that. She paid for my tertiary studies and denied herself many things so that I could get a qualification and change my life.


It wasn’t easy, but I was able to find a job a month after graduating.

The job does not coincide with what I studied, but it was the first one to come up and I couldn’t reject it because I know jobs are scarce.

I am now middle class. I am fortunate and privileged, but not rich enough to be able to afford everything.

It means I am grateful for the food on my table and the roof over my head. I know I will not always get what I want.

I don’t have an issue with black tax because I believe it is my responsibility to support and invest in my family.

I don’t believe I must be paid back all the money I have spent, or will spend, on my family.

To me, freedom means having the right to choose my own political party, being allowed to question how things are done by government officials, and being allowed to question corruption and nepotism, which is why many people are qualified yet unemployed.

However, as a born-free, I know that freedom comes with responsibility; I know I should not abuse or waste resources and facilities in the name of freedom, and that I should not say and do unethical and immoral things because I am born free.

I want to be an author, a scriptwriter, have my own business and my own clothing label. I also want to be a radio presenter and an actor, and I want a law degree.

I believe it’s possible.

I have worked hard putting my dreams into action: I volunteered at a community radio station, I have a blog and I have recently started my own business called AfriEra, where I sell headwraps in different African prints.

Next year, I’ll be registering at Unisa for a law degree.

It might sound impossible, but I would love government to allow higher education to be free.

I want my siblings to go to university free of charge.”

Read more on:    youth  |  democracy

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