Madalitso Msuku, of Ocean View Secondary School, said: “Gone are the days when values, morals and self-respect were the foundations we built our identities upon. Many say our generation is vain and lacks depth of character and I agree all too willingly.
“We have overlooked all the components that make us truly enriched people, a youth with respect and an understanding for the importance of a face-to-face communication. Our grandparents’ generation might have lacked our exposure to advanced technology and a global nation, but they are truly better than our generation in terms of character.
“In a modern age of teenage pregnancy and alcohol abuse among the youth constantly increasing at an alarming rate, it is safe to say our generation is on a path of self-destruction. We are the product of a saying that is all too lightly used, ‘live in the moment’. Our grandparents understand the importance of hard work and focusing on the future. They practised more self-control when it comes to temptation. This self-control was possible due to their understanding of who they were and what was important to them.”
Avuyile Nopinki Mgagelwa, of Ocean View Secondary School, said:
“Every generation has their own experiences or exposure, or is it that our generation is more advanced with technology? But our generation is far from being better than that of our grandparents. This new generation has a lack of humanity. We have lost the meaning of life, value and respect. We have too much exposure and more interest in the things of Western culture which is creating a big drift in who we are.
“Our grandparents’ generation held so much value and respected our spirit of Ubuntu. They knew that we all need one another and it takes a whole generation to raise a child. But with this generation, it’s every man for himself.
“We lack love and understanding, we easily judge a person that’s different from our kind, we do not take time to understand the beauty of different cultures. This is the reason why I say we lack Ubuntu.
“Families no longer have time to sit around (together), we have even lost the meaning of family – we are ok in our own selfish things. Not to mention that life no longer holds value, people kill each other every day, but no justice is done if you are not in the higher class (rich). Money has brainwashed our minds, everything is about money. Indeed the older generation is better than this at our own, because we do not value the little things we have.”
Carla Rennick, of Ocean View Secondary School, said:
“We live in a world where cars run on electricity and collecting information does not require you to become Sherlock Holmes.
“The answer to the question is a no-brainer. Of course our lives are better than our grandparents’ lives were. The stories that I have been told about how life was back then, horrifies me.
“Just imagine not having electricity and having to do everything manually and by candlelight. I think that I would go insane. This was the norm for our grandparents.
“Trying to reach someone was a nightmare for them. They had to send letters which took forever to reach its destination. Whereas we can communicate with someone in China by the push of a button.
“Don’t get me started on cooking. Cooking was a very dangerous task. Coal stoves and open fires (yes, open fires). This makes me extremely grateful for high-tech appliances that does all the cooking for you.
“Yes, these are all valid reasons as to why our lives are better, but one thing is clear, they had a much better childhood/ youth than what today’s children are having.
“This generation is growing up with technology at their fingertips. They don’t go out and play. They stay cooped up in the house with their tablets and iPhones.
“Yes, our lives are better in a sense that everything is more convenient. However, their childhood was the best ever, they experienced new things every day. The only experience today’s generation is getting is how to type two hundred words in less than two minutes.”
Charlton Simon, of Ocean View Secondary School, said:
“I believe that the life I’m living today is way better than my grandparents, because of all the struggles that they had to face during the Apartheid era. Today I have freedom, I have rights; and with those rights, there are responsibilities.
“I know for a fact that my grandparents got over all the anger, hatred, sadness and pain that this has caused and even though they have forgiven the people, their lives are forever changed. A quote from Shonda Rhymes goes: ‘Change the world and when you are done change it again’, that is exactly what the father of our rainbow nation, Tata Madiba, did.
“I like to think that in the world I am living today there is no more racism and inequality amongst people, but if you look below the surface you will find that in some instances nothing has changed.
“We should look at each other as human beings and not see race, colour or creed to make our society a better place to be.”
Faseehah Jacobs, of Ocean View Secondary School, said:
“During the apartheid era, colour bar policies did not allow black people, who made up the majority of people in South Africa, to receive a proper education and to ultimately be free from racial discrimination and white domination.
“These policies had a massive impact on the way in which non-whites lived and had an especially big effect on the way in which children and young adults of colour experienced what was supposed to be their “golden days” of childhood.
“My grandfather was forced to leave school when he was in grade 5. He was the eldest of more than 7 siblings. He had to go job hunting at the age of eleven. He sacrificed fun and education.
“My grandmother was forced to live with her grandparents where she barely saw her own parents, but not soon thereafter was she forced by political conditions to leave school and be a care giver to her younger siblings.
“My grandparents sacrificed their youth and became mature and accepted responsibility at a very young age. They experienced loss, wich still haunts them today ‘The forced removals are very difficult to forget’, they say.
“I was born and raised in the same town. I am not forced to do anything. Democracy rules and the colour policies are wiped out of existence. I have a family whom I see every day. I can go to the beach, sit on any bench and finish school with a proper education.
“I am eighteen years old, and currently in matric. I have goals and aspirations, my grandparents are my motivators and they inspire me everyday. I have an unlimited range of opportunities which I intend to grab with both hands.”
Bokamoso Molale, head boy at Simon’s Town School, said:
“Yes, I think my life is better than that of my grandparents. Mainly, because of the difference in the amount of opportunities that we had. I think I am more exposed to the opportunities especially in the terms of education (level of education), and the resources available to me. My grandparents grew up in the rural areas during the apartheid era, where black people had limited or no access to the kind of environment and resources I enjoy. Technology has also better equipped me in terms of self-development and acquiring knowledge about all that is happening around the world. As a citizen of South Africa I am also entitled to question things that happen in the country, they never had this privilege.”
Rebecca Abel, head girl at Simon’s Town School, said:
“I do believe that my life is far better than that of my grandparents. There are no barriers that in terms of my race and status, that limit the choices of career paths that I would like to embark on. My grandparents had to leave school at tender ages, to work for their families. I, on the other hand, have made it to my final schooling year and I am the head girl. My life is far better than that of my grandparents because, at the age of 17 – I have a louder voice than they’ve had at the age of 47. I am grateful for their struggle.”
Fish Hoek High’s head pupils Callum Tilbury and Zintle Tunce offered a joint statement, which said:
“As born frees we are aware as to how privileged we are compared to our grandparents whom were roughly our age during the apartheid era. We are grateful to be enjoying the fruits of the struggle.
“We have freedom of movement and expression, a greater education system, access to more information (internet) and cross-racial interaction.
“Our elders, the media and political parties constantly remind us of our freedom.
“People do tend to forget that we face a different struggle, although it may not be as great as our grandparents’. With the high rate of unemployment, there is academic, career, sport, leadership and economic pressure. Nonetheless, we are aware of the growth of our country.
“Nelson Mandela’s words resonate for us as the youth of South Africa: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation.
“We are that generation and we will make our grandparents proud.”
Masiphumele High School has a Representative Council of Learners and Vuyisani Malamela said:
“I think my life is better than my grandparents’ life. They lived and still live in a disadvantaged place, a small village near Butterworth. They dropped out of school at Grade 9. Mine is better. I live with my mother and she gives me everything I need. We have facilities such as the Desmond Tutu Youth Centre and organisations such as Ikamva Youth which exposed us to more opportunities and help us with our education. Unlike my grandparents, I am now in Grade 12 and I hope to go to UCT next year to study law and become a lawyer.”