Our country has had 28 years of freedom and equality. We have had 32 years of apartheid-free government. As free as South Africa is said to be, there are remnants of apartheid that affect those of us who are considered born-frees.

I asked my fellow born-frees two questions: “What does freedom mean to you?” and “What have you reaped from the fruits of freedom?” These questions I arrived at after considering that we had not experienced apartheid and so freedom means something different for us compared with those who had.

I received lengthy and passionate answers. Here are their views:

“I have access to education, education of my choice, and I can choose to dream as much as I can, and work towards it. I can choose the subjects I want to do at school, that will eventually lead me to the path I want. We have more access to senior positions in the workplace due to the employment equity act and we have more females taking on roles that were considered as being “only for men”. In comparison to in the olden days where a certain race or gender could only learn of a specific skillset. As a young person from generation Z, I am allowed to ask questions when I do not understand. I am allowed to look into a constitution or rule and have an opinion on it because I have freedom of expression. This further expands into being able to have a spectrum of sexuality and being. We’re not boxed into one thing; we’re rather evolving, which is great. It is to be able to exist as an individual as equally as other individuals of other races and creeds, and to be able to move around any spaces (whether physical or abstract). It is to have an opportunity to take up space and thrive as an individual. Freedom is only freedom to a certain extent. I say this because I feel that freedom is mostly a fallacy in South Africa, and the illusion of a “happy rainbow nation” and the idea of reconciliation, although good, has been used as an excuse to not thoroughly address inequalities in South Africa. As a black woman, I feel that although I am able to experience concrete freedom like being able to attend any school/university of my choice, yet to a great extent, freedom is a theoretical idea in SA and the government has failed to implement adequate policies to ensure previously disadvantaged South Africans have an equal chance to thrive in the economy, and to make better lives for themselves.” – Sibulela Jaza

“It means the basic human right to be in spaces with all races.  Feeling confident and not afraid to voice my thoughts in the face of injustice just because I am a black woman. One important thing I reaped was quality education from crèche up until high school. Being born post-apartheid allowed me to access Model C schools.” – Lerato Kunana

“Hay mna, honestly I haven’t reaped anything like freedom; with the stats of rape, gender-based violence and corruption – there’s no freedom, especially for me as a woman. I take freedom as just a word to beautify our suffering, because either way there’re still places where we’re still discriminated against. For example, today after class, there was this white lady’s house we stopped by to ask for directions. The lady was even scared to come close, as if we were there to attack her. So all in all, there’s no freedom if a black person is still considered to be doing all the evil things in the world and a certain race deemed as ‘perfect’.” – Bongekile Kekeni

“Freedom means being able to live my life the way I want and as I see fit. It also means that there are systems and/ or policies in place that address the problems the country had during apartheid. Freedom for me is being able to pursue opportunities, with no discrimination, and with the added advantage of those policies working to address my previous disadvantaged personage. What I have reaped from freedom is access to better education; it’s not the best but it’s better, and I’m closer to opportunities that are in the city and the economic hubs, and I get to move without any restrictions. But there is a lot that needs to be done because there are still a lot of limitations.” – Sihle Ma-Awu

“Freedom for me means the ability to think, act and change freely without any limitations. It also means me holding the power to fulfil my purpose and follow my goals and dreams. I’ve reaped access to better education and the ability to choose my own career path. Not having to carry a dom pass around just to prove which side of the country I belong to. To be on the other side of privilege in terms of having access to the same facilities and services as the quite people. Equality (debatable) in the face of law. Interracial relationships.” – Wendy Pikelela

“For me there’s no freedom. I have ‘reaped’ the fruits of freedom because I have parents who were willing and had the pockets to pay more so I could get more than they got – prime example being education. Post-apartheid is just a theory; it’s just a concealed system now and there’s still racism. We’re not really free, because we have to pay more to get those amenities; what about those who can’t pay more? The foundations of apartheid are still there, and in work, and still affecting us.” – Buhle July

What was evident from all these answers was that the only common-thread fruit of freedom for my generation is access to better education. This is good and right as the youth have always fought for education – from the youth of 1976 to our fight for free quality higher education in #FeesMustFall. What echoes in the answers too is that there remains much that still needs to be done.

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Tell us: What is it that you appreciate most about living in a free South Africa?