BORN FREE – Mandela’s Generation of Hope

Ilvy Njiokiktjien, The Netherlands

Twenty-five years ago, in 1994, Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president and his nation a free country. The segregation system of apartheid ended. Mandela had high hopes for the youth. The children born in the years right after apartheid ended are now young adults: the born-free generation for whom racial segregation is a thing of the past. They are the face of a new, free and successful South Africa. My personal project, ranging over 12 years (but this selection was taken from the last two years), takes a look into the day-to-day lives of these youngsters growing up in a free country. Sometimes the born-frees struggle, but many of them also thrive and enjoy their freedom that Nelson Mandela fought for.

In the many years working on this personal project I have seen the country change and my interest in the born-frees kept growing. Corruption, crime and poverty are holding many of the born-frees back. They struggle — sometimes even more than their parents.

But there has also been real progress: many born-frees live successful lives and are pursuing careers that wouldn’t have been open to them during the old racist regime. The born-free stories are about social change, freedom, politics, humanity, poverty, (in)equality and diversity.

Discover more: Shortlist 2019