by Maureen Velile Majola
I was born in 1990 and am considered one of “Mandela’s grandchildren” – a generation of children born at or after the fall of apartheid. We are also known as the ‘born frees’. The minute I hear these words I just thought, “thank God I’m not one of them!” They have portrayed themselves as the ‘don’t care’ generation. One would be amazed that I do not see myself in that light because well I am nowhere near being ‘born free’ as I have my own struggles that I am fighting against in this life time. Yes apartheid is over and I was not there to experience it but I know what it did to my grandparents. I know how my grandmother hated going to Natalspruit, a township in the east of Johannesburg.
I remember her telling me how she nearly killed one night when there were tribal wars between Zulus and Xhosas. The early ‘90s war was erupted between some members of African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in Johannesburg townships.
Gogo told me that a group of strange men stopped their taxi which headed to Johannesburg from eMsinga, KwaZulu Natal. She had traveled to bury her mother. The man and boys burnt their taxi and burnt 10 people who were in the taxi. My grandmother was amongst the 5 people who survived. This is a tale she told with tears running down her cheeks.
We recently embarked on a journey to find out what queer born frees think of the upcoming elections.
We spoke to Sisipho Samente (22) year old butch lesbian from Alexandra Township. She said that she wanted to vote but each time she looked at the education system she wondered why she should vote. She continued on saying “how can our pass mark be 30% over 100%?”.
This is a disgrace and I’m disappointed that the ruling party thinks this is some kind of achievement. With these low marks, we struggle with getting into university because 30% is nowhere close to what the university entrance requires.”
I then spoke to Smanga Shange (22) who is also from Alexandra Township. She said “I don’t want to vote but then again the ruling party might just win by default. I don’t want anything to do with politics but I’m going to exercise my right to vote as a first time voter. I live in Alexandra and I don’t see a point of voting as Alex has remained the same over the years. Nothing seems to change but our parents voted 20 years ago and even today they are going to vote.”
Theo Madileng (20) said “Freedom to me means being fearless and feel free to do whatever I put my mind to. It also means I am able to speak my mind as a young black person. Freedom also means being one with white people and having no racial segregation or what so ever. This also mean I can be proud of who I am and speak my language anywhere in the country without any fear” Theo went on to say “I am not going to vote because there’s a lot of corruption going around and they are all full of lies and empty promises”
Madileng has not registered to vote and she’s not bothered by who is going to win or not.
Speaking to these young people made me think of that taxi ride to Johannesburg that almost took my grandmothers life. Thinking of this gave me the determination to go out and cast that vote and let all the parties have a fair shake.
I just told myself that this year’s vote is for my grandparents who wouldn’t have understood a thing if I told them I wasn’t going to vote.
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