Nineteen years after the beginning of multiracial democracy in South Africa, the Born Frees—the first generation of the so-called rainbow nation—have come of age. These young South Africans, whose parents lived through the transition from a brutal system of white-led racial segregation, under apartheid, to a country that sought to become a democracy with twelve national languages and one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, have developed a voice and identity of their own. During the past two years, the photographer Krisanne Johnsontravelled across South Africa documenting the Born Frees.
“These young people across the country tell a story of a democracy that, like them, is complex and young,” said Johnson. South Africa is currently grappling with enormous issues. It faces challenges in access to education, gang violence, institutional corruption, HIV/AIDS, and income inequality. More than half of the nation’s eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds are unemployed, according to the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Though they are inheriting a country still burdened with inequality and violence (South Africa has one of the five highest levels of income discrepancy in the world and one of the highest violent crime rates), this generation is hopeful. “All of my friends are like different colors, if you could say it like that,” said Lisa-Joan Coltman, sixteen, who was born three years after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first President. “I know what apartheid was, and we will remember what happened and respect it. But we don’t look back at the past that much.”
“I hoped to show quiet, real moments in the lives of young South Africans,” Johnson told me. “The world is watching how they will continue Nelson Mandela’s legacy.”.http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/photobooth/#slide_ss_0=1