"Born Free" Generation Carves New Path in South Africa

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NBC Nightly News
Brian Williams/Ron Allen
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NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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Two decades after the end of apartheid in South Africa the divide between the rich and the poor is still strikingly visible, but today's young adults have great hopes for the future.



""Born Free" Generation Carves New Path in South Africa." Ron Allen, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 18 July 2012. NBC Learn. Web. 12 August 2017.


Allen, R. (Reporter), & Williams, B. (Anchor). (2012, July 18). "Born Free" Generation Carves New Path in South Africa. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=59815


""Born Free" Generation Carves New Path in South Africa" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 07/18/2012. Accessed Sat Aug 12 2017 from NBC Learn: https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=59815



A joyful day in Johannesburg and across South Africa for that matter, including this group of children. A small part of the estimated twelve million kids who were organized to sing “Happy Birthday” to Nelson Mandela. One of the towering figures of our modern world turned ninety-four today. Yesterday, he met with former President Bill Clinton, who said Mandela appeared to be in good spirits, was looking well though he’s frail these days and unable to walk. It’s another milestone for a man who remains a powerful influence over his country, especially the young people there, many of them now thriving, thanks to the freedom he fought so hard to win. Our report tonight from NBC’s Ron Allen.

RON ALLEN, reporting:

They’re called the Born Free generation. South Africans--eighteen or younger--born since the historic 1994 election that made Nelson Mandela president, and put South Africa on a new path after decades of apartheid. You all know Mandela?

CHILDREN (in unison): Yes.

ALLEN: What do you think of Mandela?

GIRL #1: If it weren’t for him, I think most of us wouldn’t be here.

BOY: Yes.

GIRL #1: My grandmother didn’t-- didn’t have a chance to go to school. She doesn’t know how to write her name

ALLEN: But this year, as the Born Frees become adults, they’re thinking more about whether Mandela’s dream of a rainbow nation with opportunity for all really exists.

YUSEF : As much as things have changed, a lot of thing-- a lot of things haven’t changed.

ALEX : There’s still a lot of racial tension between people.

MICHAEL : I’m much more optimistic.

ALLEN: Yusef, Alex, and Michael attend one of the country’s most respected universities. Under apartheid, Yusef would’ve been classified as black; Alex, mixed race; and Michael, white. What’s it like being a white South African these days.

MICHAEL: You know, it has a few of its challenges.

ALLEN: Challenges he says, like black affirmative action programs that can limit some opportunities for whites. Some twenty years later, South Africa is a complicated and evolving society where race still determines a lot about who gets what and how people live and work. For the most part, black South Africans control the country’s government and politics while white South Africans control the country’s business and wealth. It’s a divide that’s strikingly visible, with suburban neighborhoods and shopping malls almost exclusively white; while the majority of blacks still live in the poor parts of town, where decent housing, good schools and jobs are rare. But at this museum--once a notorious political prison--many of these students said they believe history won’t hold them back.

GIRL #2: The world is my stage. I can express myself the way I want to, and I have no limits.

CHILDREN (in unison): We are people of South Africa.

ALLEN: A generation, hoping the promise of opportunity and justice now enshrined here, burns even more brightly for them. Ron Allen, NBC News, Johannesburg.