As a young South African growing up in a household where I was raised with liberal views and taught to love those near me, I would have to admit that I was born lucky. I was born into a house where everything was possible; the world was my oyster and carpe diem was the phrase thrown around on a daily basis. I lived in a safe neighbourhood; I played in the streets, went on my youthful adventures with friends who later became my brothers. My problems only extended to material things; I was never worried about food or shelter or love. I never felt alone or that the world was against me as there was no reason for hatred towards anyone and there was no real issue with my fellow pupils other than the odd marble game or playground quarrel where someone cheated.
But unfortunately this was a dystopia spawned from the exploitation of years of segregation and discrimination towards my fellow countrymen, a segment of society was created who not only dreamt but achieved, we the fortunate youth born on the right side of the street had it all; a future and a reason to live while our brothers and sisters suffered for decades the policies created by the Apartheid government backed by the ideals of some foreign colonial agenda instilled a socio economic divide that tore deep into what’s considered social norms. The tremors of past crimes are still felt 21 years after the fall of apartheid and will be felt for decades to come.
The rainbow nation, the world’s poster boy for reconciliation created by the sacrifices of many like the late Nelson Mandela, is now steadily losing its shimmer with a stagnating economy and the ever present issue of racism showing yet again its ugly illogical face. The millennials are now in for a bumpy ride. Ill-equipped and with the wrong ideals in place it’ll be a long and heated one. The issues highlighted in recent political movements such as the #ZumaMustFall have lost a lot of support in all racial camps due to the odd member of society with racial bigotry that undermines the issues of corruption and irresponsible state management but rather heightens racial tension.
Our millennial denial is at the heart of the conditions that is needed for the ever present race issue, the utter disregard for the illnesses of the past is the source of our woes as a Nation. Throughout my education I encountered racism on all fronts. At first it may not of been clear as day to me at kindergarten or primary school but, upon reflection, the cold realisation was an awakening. In primary school I distinctly remember we had to use crayons quite often for colouring purposes and that one of the crayons was referred to as “Human colour” instead of peach. The realisation at how my fellow class mates of colour must of felt when even their stationery was discriminating against them now still sends shivers down my spine.
I wish that the crayon was just a once off example of where things went south, but unfortunately there are many. The millennial denial which describes quite accurately the mind-set from which these casual racist slurs spawn and skewed world/nation views originate; the inability to realise and accept that our forefathers and ancestors benefited from the outright racial discrimination of our fellow countrymen. The idea we were indirectly handed our futures on a silver platter at the cost of past generations leaves me distraught.
Our fragile democracy is heavily dependent on the realisation of the millennial denial’s existence, the flicker of a true rainbow nation is ever fading and the longer we deny it the longer we are unable to move forward together. It is now that the millennial generation must come to terms with the herculean task of reconciliation needed before we descend into a constant state of destructive retribution. The ever present need for us as nation to modernise and engage the international sphere as a serious player is becoming ever more apparent. Let us not forget that the only way forward is together while acknowledging the millennial denial’s existence and following the appropriate path of healing for the festering wounds of the past through constructive solutions and resolutions.