Memoirs of a Born Free


On 19 October 1991, Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi was born at the Meadowlands Community Clinic, one year and eight months after Mandela’s release from prison. The Nationalist Party was still in power, but everyone knew that its grip on political power would draw to an inevitable end sooner rather than later.

Memoirs of a Born Free is a journey back through the life of Malaika Wa Azania as she recounts the experience of growing up through the end of apartheid and South Africa’s transition into a democratic nation. She was not born during the times of constitutionalised apartheid but is still a product of an epoch of systematic individualised apartheid. Her story is not a reflection of freedom; it is an epitome of the on-going struggle for liberation and emancipation from mental

The struggle of the generations before that of the Born Frees was a struggle for political freedom and democracy and was the foundation for revolution and reform but not the ultimate goal. Malaika contests the notion of the born-free generation when it is a generation that was born in the midst of a struggle for economic freedom and the quest for the realisation of the objectives of the African Renaissance.

Now 22 years into a democratic dispensation, Malaika describes her life as having been a struggle to understand the “rainbow nation” and to salvage from it something that renders her free. She did not find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that she was told about as a child. She has, however, through the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, found reason to believe in the capacity of the people to escape the nervous conditions that define Black life. She continues to serve the African Youth Coalition with dedication as believes today, without a shadow of doubt, that another Africa is possible.

Azania, a fierce debater and an activist devoted to pursuing the African Renaissance agenda is the founder of a pan Africanist journal, African Voices of the Left and a columnist for The Thinker magazine. In 2012, Malaika was the branch secretary of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and is currently the Secretary General of the African Youth Coalition, an umbrella organisation of all the youth society organisations throughout the African continent. She is also the director of her own writing company, Pen and Azanian Revolution (Pty) Ltd.


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Issue 58