I don’t remember much about days before 27 April 1994, when South Africans of all races voted for the first time. I remember that my parents were excited about going to vote, I just didn’t know why. I was four-years-old at the time.
My story is that of post-apartheid challenges as I was being raised by my mother’s wages from the domestic work she did. She was good at it to and always hard working. Despite her circumstances that were never easy, I don’t remember my mother requesting us to be anything more than ourselves. She never fantasised about lawyers, doctors or accountants in the house. She knew that ours would be a story of freedom of choice that black people didn’t have before and I have exercised this choice by going to Tshwane University of Technology to study journalism.
Choice is sometimes hindered by circumstances. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and thus I haven’t been able to pick and choose every internship I want. I was offered training by Media 24 in Cape Town and have turned that down as internships offer little wages to either pay rent or buy food, doing both with that stipend is near impossible. So I’ve turned down work I know I would have loved because of those circumstances. I also understand that as I face those challenges, I can’t complain too much about them because the opportunity that was offered would not have been made to people like my parents when they were younger during the hard days of apartheid.
After that realising the struggle I’d have in relocating to another province, I then applied for another internship with my university in Pretoria and I was given the internship. Persistence is something I also picked up from my parents. They also put me under immense pressure when they decided to name me after Nelson Mandela, the good thing is that it’s only a second name (or middle name to our friends that butcher the English language, the Americans).
I still want to live in Cape Town and will be saving this year so I can make a huge effort to take up opportunities that come up in the Mother City. At least TUT gave me work in the field I am interested in, I have to help chair second year students with their diary meetings for broadcast journalism practicals, assist them when editing their video footage and produce their news bulletins. It’s not with a big news organisation as I’d hoped, but it’s relevant experience.
I don’t deny the challenges that other young people have, I acknowledge that South Africa has high rates of unemployment. We can sit, discuss these, complain and then not realise that some people have opportunities to change their circumstances as I have. Some people can apply for government student loans and study, only repay these when they get employment.
Freedom has given us choices our parents would only have dreamt about when they were our age. Let’s use these various options.