Freedom. Such a simple word. Not too long, not too short. No complicated sounds or silent letters. None of those weird little pronunciation tricks we find so often in the English language. Everything about the word is easy. And yet to achieve it- this gift that we as young people take for granted- was the exact opposite of easy.
I can say that we as young people take this gift for granted confidently because I am a young person and I know I take it for granted. I was born into a South Africa on the cusp of freedom in 1992 when the dreams and aspirations of one, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela were about to be realised and our people were looking collectively at a turbulent, confusing and startlingly beautiful future. A place where our unity as a nation and our freedom to choose would be our greatest assets. My generation and those that came after me have never had to fight for this freedom. And this is both our greatest blessing and our greatest curse. Like anything that is gifted and not earned, our freedom of choice is so easy to abuse. We are not conscious of it, not truly grateful for it and therefore do not properly utilise it.
Young people today have the potential to make an impact every single day. We are afforded the choices that generations before us never had with the freedom to do and say and go as we please. To walk hand-in-hand with our peers regardless of race or social standing or sexual orientation. The world is quite literally our oyster and yet we have become even more complacent than the oppressed generations that came before us. We have become prisoners in our own freedom.
We need to realise that this gift is not permanent. It was given to us. And if we continue to take it for granted, it will disappear. We will become our own oppressors and allow history to repeat itself. As the young people of this beautiful nation, it is up to us to use our freedom of choice to properly effect change. To be truly free takes courage. And it has been proven time and time again that courage can only be found outside of one’s comfort zone. We must have the courage to step away from the developing herd and charter a new course.
If there is one thing I want all the incredible youth of our country to realise today, it is this: I am aware of my freedom. I am grateful for the freedom to choose. I can use my freedom of choice to make a difference in this world.
Image courtesy Jessica Urbani
Align-Ed Foundation NPC 2016/503223/08
Choices and the PE Crew Programme
are approved by the
Nelson Mandela Foundation