Twenty years since apartheid: How does the new generation see South Africa?

“We should pat ourselves on our backs when you think where we have come from,” Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu said Wednesday at a news conference in Cape Town’s St. George’s cathedral.

Sunday marks 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa. But close to 20 million people, which is some 40 percent of the country’s population, has no personal memory of South Africa’s turbulent history.

They are referred to as “Born Frees.”

On May 7, South Africa goes to the polls. “Born Frees” will have the opportunity to vote for the first time. Reuters photographers Mike Hutchings, Siphiwe Sibeko and Rogan Ward asked “Born Frees” about the upcoming election and how their experiences are different than their parents.’

Here is what they had to say:


Sanele Chileze, Embo township, South Africa, April 10, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

“We have to secure the legacy of Mandela. … That’s why it is very important for us to vote, for this nation to be straight and everyone can be free. If I don’t vote I can’t say anything, if I vote I can say something.”

 


Mark Naidoo,19, Chatsworth, South Africa, April 10, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

“I don’t believe my vote will make a difference. My parents went through apartheid and I didn’t. They know about these things and know what will change.”

 


Thandi Mamacos, 18, Cape Town, South Africa, April 19, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

“[It is] definitely important for young people to vote because they are the ones who will have to live with the outcome the longest. It’s more our country than the older generation who may not want to change things that need to be changed because of what has happened in the past.”

 


Sandile Mabizela, 21, Embo township, South Africa, April 10, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

“I don’t see any importance in voting, the main people who are ruling this country are doing their own stuff. Like spending millions on just building a house. I don’t see why I should vote on this thing honestly.”

 


Rethabile Moso, 19, Embo township, South Africa, April 10, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

“Most of the youth are smoking tik and drugs. They take the wrong things, drink, commit robbery. I want the political party that will lead to take care of that situation. I think my vote can make a difference.” 

 


Sanele Gasa, 19, Inanda, South Africa, April 10, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

 “I don’t see, to be honest, the importance of voting. It seems like when you vote and when you don’t vote it’s all the same. Because I know people who have voted for years and nothing has changed for them. Like my Dad, he still lives in a mud house. He was born in 1961 and he is still living in a mud house.”

 


Shaniel Naidoo, 20, Northdale, South Africa. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

“When the young people are voting now it’s because they want the South Africa to change, to be a better South Africa. They want things to go in the right way, especially with the youngsters’ education. Most of the youngsters finishing school now are still without jobs. So that’s one thing the political parties need to turn around, to create more jobs in South Africa.”


Luyanda Malinga, 20, Marianhill, April 10, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

“I am not voting. I don’t see there’s a need for me to vote because there is nothing that has changed ever since people started to voting.”


Nathaniel Groep, 19, Mannenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, April 18, 2014.  (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

“Every vote counts, particularly for young people. For our generation there are new possibilities and maybe we can build a brighter future. The issues I would like to see addressed are gangsterism, peer pressure and the lack of work opportunities.”

 


Mphakamisi Zali,18, Langa township, Cape Town, South Africa, February 8, 2014.  (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

“The born frees can make their voices count. We need parties to concentrate on education and creating more internships and job opportunities for young people.”

 


Nkululeko Simelane,Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 22, 2014. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

“For me voting for the first time. … I don’t want to lie I don’t have the energy. The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time I don’t want to miss it.”

 


Khulasande Matabese, 18, Langa township, Cape Town, South Africa, February 8, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

 “It is important for us as young people to go and vote for political parties the give us something to do. They should all create jobs and educational opportunities. If we all are positive, as I am, combined we can make a difference.”

Nick Kirkpatrick is a digital photo editor at The Washington Post. Follow him on Instagram or on Twitter.
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