Born Free

Born Free


This year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial elections, an event which ended three centuries of white domination and 46 years of formalised oppression of the black majority under apartheid.

For many young South Africans who have grown up with no memory of apartheid, 2014 is also their first chance to take part in a general election. Reuters asked these so-called “Born Frees” how they felt about the upcoming vote.

. JOHANNESBURG, South Africa. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Nkululeko Simelane is a second-year engineering student who was born on April 27, 1994 – the very day of South Africa’s first racially mixed elections.

Unlike her parents and grandparents, hers is not a South Africa of black and white, oppressor and oppressed. "There's still a bit of racism around but it doesn't affect me. Broadly speaking, this whole apartheid thing, I just don't feel it anymore," she said.

On May 7 Nkululeko will have the chance to cast her ballot in South Africa’s general election, but she is not wholly enthusiastic.

“The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time, I don't want to miss it," she said.

. CAPE TOWN, South Africa. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Eighteen-year-old Thandi will also be voting for the first time this year.

She said that 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."

. DURBAN, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Nineteen-year-old Sanele Gasa has registered to cast his ballot, but he is skeptical of the process.

"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,” he said.

“I know people who have voted for years and nothing has changed for them. Like my Dad… He was born in 1961 and he is still living in a mud house.”

. DURBAN, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Luyanda Malinga, 20, is so pessimistic that she says she will not be taking part in the ballot.

“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," she said.

. DURBAN, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

First-time voter Sanele Chileze feels very differently.

"We have to secure the legacy of Mandela," he said. "That's why it is very important for us to vote."

"If I don't vote I can't say anything, if I vote I can say something."