The kids are alright – Ama2000 share what freedom means to them

Three South Africans younger than democracy share what freedom means to them.
Three South Africans younger than democracy share what freedom means to them.

All they know is 'freedom'. They didn't live through apartheid and were not around for the transition into the new democracy. 

They are often referred to as entitled or spoilt. So much so that they are often brushed with one stroke when people talk about them and their age mates - ama2000. 

There are a lot of misconceptions about them, and they would like to correct them. After all, they have a right to do so this Freedom Day. 

It has been 28 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa, but has it trickled down to the young? 

Drum speaks to Indiphile Maki (21), Yonwaba Smith (22) and Siyabonga Madlopha (24) who say in their little circles they feel free, but in the greater scheme of things, not so much.

“I think we think we are free,” says young Indiphile.

“When we look at freedom holistically, we are not really free. The reality is that we also face challenges like racism. But the difference between us and maybe our parents or grandparents is that it is not as blatant. For us it is systemic. They had doors they could not use and places they could not be, but we are free to move around but we are not safe to do so.

“As a young woman living in South Africa, I wish I could feel free enough to exist without being paranoid that at the next turn there could be someone waiting to harm me,” she says.

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Siyabonga believes that the fight that was fought to gain our country’s freedom was different.

“I think it is wonderful that we are able to attend institutions of higher learning and interact with other races. So compared to previous generations we are free, but we still have to work twice as hard as other races to get a seat at the table. Even when we do work hard to get the qualifications, we then struggle to get jobs. So then we have freedom of movement.

“We start of on a negative. By the time you finish studying you cannot go out and start living life for yourself. Many people have to go back home to help out, some to feed the family and others to educate younger siblings. It's almost like we inherit debt and by the time we finish paying it off, we are close to retirement,” he adds.

Yonwaba says freedom cannot be discussed without touching on the financial aspect. “It is sad that I know people who are my age, who are breadwinners in their homes with (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) NSFAS money.”

“White kids choose to go to university. Black kids want to, but they cannot afford to. Generational wealth has been set up for other generations and we are not in the same level as other races. We do not have high expectations of government. In fact, we expect the bare minimum but very often even that is not given. It is hard to believe that these are the same people who were the youth of 1976 because it is not evident in how they run the country. Perhaps we cannot blame the elders because they have fought their fight and now it is time to fight our fight as this generation and that is okay.

“We have to be proactive about the kind of country we want to inherit and be deliberate about how we want to leave it for the generations that come after us. I have personally done community projects that are supposed to be the government’s job, but we cannot live in filth just because government is not doing its job. It is up to us as citizens to stand up.”

Siyabonga says, “I think government folks go too relaxed. They are failing us now. The war for them was about being able to vote, walk freely without a pass and they did not think about what their plan would be after they got those freedoms. Now we are a country that can walk freely but has nothing to live on because of lack of employment.”

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They believe that they are misunderstood. People think they only care about themselves and no one else but Yonwaba says they are a reflection of what society really is.

“We do not suffer from bazothini abantu syndrome (what are people going to say syndrome). We live our truth. We say the things other people feel or think, but they are too scared to say because of how they have been previously conditioned.

“We have come to shake things up. We have been raised by people who have their own traumas and we ask questions because the secrecy has been harmful for the nation because people end up not wanting to hear the truth.”

Indiphile says she wishes elders could ask instead of imposing.

“We are the kids, yet we are the ones that have taken it upon themselves to understand the elders. I wish they could just ask us instead of imposing things. Also, they should answer us when we ask what the logic of doing certain things is.

“We are rug shakers. They have swept things under the carpet for so long our sinuses are being triggered. People are sneezing. We are tired of the sneezing and the fever.”

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