oa Rhodes Journalism Review - Being a Born Free - the misunderstandings and missed opportunities facing young South Africans - : last word

Volume 2015, Issue 35
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Young South Africans are often referred to as the Born Frees - a term which sometimes means people born after 1994, sometimes people born after 1990, or young people who came of age politically after 1994. I've come to really dislike the term Born Frees and particularly the way it is used by the media and the politicians. By calling young people Born Frees, society is using apartheid as a reference point to identify a post-apartheid generation. This reference point (the transition to a 'free' society) unfortunately does not resonate with many of the young people that I've encountered in my research and many feel insulted by the implications of this term, which does not apply to them in any way. Should South African society really be using the transition from apartheid to define its young people and how does it relate to the lives of real young people in South Africa today? Are they really Born Free, free from what, free to do what, free individuals or free as a collective? I will look at some of the stereotypes being used in the mainstream media of Born Frees, and then look at the reaction to this term by some real young South Africans.

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