Born Frees and the Confidence of Youth

Alexia Webster

South Africa. 2014

In 1994 South Africa held its first ever democratic elections and elected the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, officially ending the racist and violent state system of Apartheid. Twenty years later, the South Africans born during those first few years of the country’s new found freedom have been nicknamed the “Born Frees.”

They were the first of the new generation that have no direct memory of Apartheid. They do not remember the humiliation and violent exclusion that black South Africans endured; how black men and women were forced to produce their passbooks to walk around in the city or face hard labor in prison or on white farms; nor were they compelled to live in crowded impoverished townships; or work for exploitation wages simply because they were black.

Today, more than 20 years later, South Africa still faces massive inequality, poverty and violence, with a growing understanding that the struggle against the system of apartheid has not yet been won.

This series looks at the lives of seven young South Africans who are now becoming young adults with glittering dreams and the confidence of their youth, asks what freedom means to them.”

Read More:

Busi Mjiyakho’s “The Cost of a “Born Free”