Pretoria – When millions of South African went to vote in the country’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, little Ntokozo Mnguni was just two-days old and did not know anything about apartheid South Africa.
Born on 25 April in the same year that South Africa attained its freedom, Ntokozo is aware of the challenges that his parents and older brother had to endure prior to casting their vote. “As many people would say, I’m a born free. I don’t know anything about apartheid but I’m aware of what it did and I will never take the struggle of those concerned for granted,” he says with an affluent English accent.
Like many of the so-called “born frees” Ntokozo had an opportunity to attend one of the best schools in the country, the exclusive St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.
“I am grateful for all the opportunities that democracy provided for me because unlike my brother, I could go to any school; I wanted to attend whereas he was restricted”.
He is also grateful that he is able to exercise his right to vote in a free country.
But like many other youngsters of his age, Ntokozo has his concerns about the new South Africa. These include the rampant crime, HIV and Aids, drug and alcohol abuse.
“These type of things like crime and Aids are really worrying me and I feel more should be done to address these things otherwise we risk reversing all the gains of this freedom …because for some us growing under a society that does not respect God, where there is lawlessness is equal to growing under the apartheid regime”.
He’s not alone. His friend, Akhona Qunta, also displays the same fears. “I still think we as the youth have better chances than our parents did, but at same time we are at a high risk of dying young because of the things that surround us, there are no morals in South Africa anymore it’s just turning into a chaotic society thanks to crime and Aids,” says Akhona.
The 18-year-old from Mamelodi is also not satisfied with the level of employment for young people. “I still feel freedom should mean having the power to afford things that make you enjoy that freedom in the first place, what is freedom if you don’t have a job or can’t afford anything because you are poor,” he questioned.
He is also worried about the new trend seen among black youths – that of displaying wealth through fancy cars, jewellery and designer clothes. “We don’t have role models. We see people displaying their wealth – that’s all is important to them and most of them are not even educated.” – Chris Bathembu, BuaNews