Opinion

Born Very Frees dream of new Utopias - but there's not room for everyone

The world is changing in fundamental ways and today's youth look set to flip it on its head

28 April 2019 - 00:10 By
These young women are part of 'The Creatives', a collective of artistic individuals, based in Pretoria, who come together every few months. The meetings are mainly organised by Innocent Moreku.
These young women are part of 'The Creatives', a collective of artistic individuals, based in Pretoria, who come together every few months. The meetings are mainly organised by Innocent Moreku.
Image: Ilvy Njiokiktjien

Two and a half decades ago we had a grand coronation. There were streamers, balloons and joy everywhere. Democracy was crowned king and its first act was to dub all the children birthed after its ascension Born Frees. They were to be our new legions of free folk, unburdened by past shoulder chips and untethered from the time of one-group crimes.

That didn't go according to plan.

Cast a glance at the news and you'll find that Born Frees are not as unfettered from the past as their parents had hoped. In many ways the pressures and prejudices of the past sit just as heavily on their shoulders as they did on their predecessors'.

Granted, they are not going through apartheid, but what died during that regime seems to have come back in zombiefied form. Maybe it has always been there, lurking in the background, but whatever the reason, the Born Frees are not as free as we had hoped. So what about the Born Very Frees?

Born 10 or more years after the "great change", today's youth find the kumbaya positivity of the immediate aftermath of the election unintelligible - something like a fax machine, a relic from the "before times".

Today's 20-year-olds were just 10 when Jacob Zuma became president of SA. They've been incubated in a very different societal laboratory than their elder siblings and it shows. Just talk to one of them about your prejudices versus theirs, if you want to feel like a bigoted fossil.

Are they the ones to usher us into the racial Utopia we hoped for in 1994? Probably not. Their elder siblings saw through that dream.

If you haven't noticed, the world is changing in very fundamental ways, and today's youth look set to flip it on its head. They're dreaming of new Utopias, ones in which there is not enough space for everyone.

So, oldies, we kind of bungled our attempt. We were too naive, but maybe that's what was needed at the time. The Born Very Frees are tearing that idea apart and will probably be the ones who build a new Arcadia.

The question we have to ask ourselves, especially given that humans are living longer, is whether we're capable and willing to shape up or are going to sit here and make trouble until we're unceremoniously shipped out.


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