I am not a Freedom baby. I was born in the 80’s, so pre-1994. That is, before Apartheid ended.
In Grade 1 (or Class 1, as it was called at the time) I was at an Indian school which was close to my house, one at which my mother taught. It was a little advantageous being the daughter of one of the nice teachers in the school.
I was 7 years old in 1992, when my parents moved me to a model C, or “White” school. Those few years that I was alive, I did not know at all about Apartheid and that I was actually living in it. I never felt its effects, but I was too young to understand, let alone care. I remember some of the interview process the day my parents took me there. I even remember that I was wearing a denim jumpsuit with a green T-shirt inside, and that I sat on the rough cement steps afterwards while listening to the teacher speaking to my parents. To me they were just adults talking, and that was it. I never realized that they were Indian parents talking to a White lady in a time where Indians and Whites were not allowed to be in the same place, let alone talk to each other.
It obviously went well and I was accepted into the school. Since it was a White school, the majority of pupils were of course white, but there was a significant number of Indian and Black kids too, with a handful of Coloured kids. I know the term “Coloured” is a touchy word for those outside SA, especially Americans, but read up on my American friend Cristina’s take on it, here.
I grew up in a multiracial and multicultural school, even though I lived in an Indian area. Because of the Group Areas Act of 1950, Indians, among other non-White people, were forced to live in separate areas. Indians in Durban are from one of the following suburbs: Reservoir Hills, Chatsworth, Phoenix, Merebank, Stanger, Tongaat, and my home town, Clare Estate. And let me not forget Effingham Heights and Seatides (my friends would feel slightly insulted if I left their areas out). It is only recently that they have started branching out to areas like Umhlanga Rocks and Durban North which were previously “White only” areas.
Attending a multiracial school has had a huge impact on my upbringing as it has educated me in the diversity of this country, and I was lucky that I was born in a time where the separation was coming to an end. By the time I had grown enough to understand what had happened, it no longer existed. The barriers had been broken.
I think it has been easier for people of my generation, and especially those Freedom babies, to be more tolerant of each other. Even though there is still a racist undertone in the way we live, I believe that it exists more in the older generation that lived through Apartheid. I can’t speak for everyone, but from my own experience I have noticed that those that are complaining about the way Government is now and how useless it is, are the ones that lived through Apartheid. Since the roles of Black and White are now totally reversed, people are still adjusting to the change and since Black was previously disadvantaged, I think that they just need time to find their feet. Its as if power was just suddenly thrust upon them and they aren’t quite sure how to handle it. Its like a hot potato that they need to juggle.
Yes, it has been 18 years since Apartheid ended, but it takes more time for people to heal, especially the older people who lived through Apartheid during the prime years of their lives. It could not have been easy for an 18-25 year old non-White person with ambitions and dreams to be denied the right to fulfill them. As Indians, the only career paths available were Education or Medicine. Why do you think there are so many Indian doctors and teachers now?
I strongly believe, especially after listening to some of my new friends who love discussing politics (you know who you are), that South Africa does have potential and that we just need to be patient. Yes, Government isn’t doing enough and is very corrupt and loves filling their own pockets, but it will change. Give it another decade or two for the next, more educated and free-thinking generation to step up and take over. Then, I don’t think it matters what race rules the country because the new generation does not see colour.