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Youth and Freedom According to Young South Africans

We asked young South Africans “what is youth?" Here’s how they responded.

Freedom, like youth, is a precarious thing. As young South Africans we're told we are free and equal. In reality, it feels like we've been sold a dream, a dream that lacks context. We spend our days and nights trying to give the dream context, trying to make sense of our freedom, of our youth. We go to events like the Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival in the hopes of validating the dream by sharing experiences of freedom with other young people. Myself and photographer Siya Mkhasibe asked young South Africans at last month's Basha Uhuru fest in Johannesburg "What is youth?" Here’s how they responded.


What is youth?

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"The youth are depressed and hungry. As artists we’re barely surviving, we’re not given what we deserve. We’re not given the support. We need to support each other and that’s the solution to many of our problems. That’s why we’re here supporting other bands. Also, ignorance adds to the problems so we need to learn to do better. We realise that the change begins with us as individuals."

Wazi M. Kunene & Sindiswa Magidla / @WaziMKunene @cindymagidla

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"I think youth is or should be about wanting to learn new things all the time and being open to new things, even the things that are uncomfortable. It doesn’t even have anything to do with how old you are, or 'Where were you? Waar was jy?' I think it’s just about staying open and that’s youthful."

Naledi Chai / @fly_machine_sessions

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"I think the youth of today are going to change this country for the better. There aren't any rules, so it’s a very interesting time. There aren’t any rules to break even. This are just happening."

Nthabiseng Lethoko

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"I think youth is a young energy, but a forward-moving energy. I think it has a lot to do with what you're looking for is the vibrancy and colour that is the youth of South Africa. I mean I think that just comes from the creativity that is dormant within all the children that we actually are. On some level, I think youth is that connectedness that we feel with the young, and when I say the young, it's those that are full of potential and are self-realised in their potential. Youth is a very beautiful feeling, I don’t think it’s necessarily of a specific age, anyone can be youthful. I think we all are youthful. We all have that unlimited potential that we discover every day and what makes us wake up in the morning."

Tubs Saldanha / @tubssaldanha

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"Young people are like old people in the sense that we’re all trying to eat, sleep, drink, fuck, and make sense of the world that our parents gave us. It’s difficult, it’s fun, vibrant, awful, crazy creative, but that’s what youth is. The youth are adults trying to make sense of the world. And I suppose adults have stopped trying to search to look to find, whereas young people are still looking, trying to find what it is that makes sense in the world that we live in and the inheritance that we’ve been given."

Andre Saldanha / @dre_saldanha

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"It’s the journey that we all on. At this particular age and time, I think that encompasses youth, that we’re all experiencing this together. Here at Constitutional Hill it’s a youthful spirit.

Motherhood as a young person is the most challenging thing I’ve ever felt because I don’t understand it. But everyday I learn to understand its demands and learn to fulfil them. I feel so empowered when I sort out something. Youth and parenthood is interesting. There’s a difference between how our mothers raised us and what we do. Times change, people and experiences change, so you can’t expect the same outcomes when we are all unique."

Kabelo Mofokeng / @coffee_bae

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"I’m an adult. How am I youth? I’m 29 so technically I’m a little bit older than youth but I’m still youth instead. Youth isn’t dictated by age, it’s so much more than that."

"Youth is a lie, wait don’t quote me on that."

Elina Namabala / @elinanambala, Millie Tsela / @miss_tsela

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"Youth is about being with like-minded people who are free to express themselves and not afraid of saying 'I am African, black young and gifted.' It’s about understanding myself and my roots as an African person and understanding the significance of pro-blackness. It’s a good time to be black. We’re embracing and celebrating it in the way we wear our hair and express and present ourselves."

Thandeka Mkabela / @thandekamkabela

Photo: Siya Mkhasibe

"I think youth is two-dimensional. There’s the age thing that qualifies you as youth. And then there’s the expression and appreciation of youth, understanding the June 16 uprising. Particularly with #FeesMustFall, it built a connection between young people today and those of ’76."

Mmatsie Meso / @mmatsie1

Interview

Kofi Jamar Switches Lanes In 'Appetite for Destruction'

The Ghanaian rapper and "Ekorso" hitmaker presents a different sound in his latest EP.

The drill scene in Ghana has been making waves across the continent for some time now. If you're hip to what a crop of young and hungry artists from the city of Kumasi in Ghana and beyond have been doing over the past year, then you already know about rapper Kofi Jamar.

Towards the end of November last year he dropped one of the biggest drill songs to emerge from Ghana's buzzing drill scene, the popular street anthem "Ekorso." In the December and January that followed, "Ekorso" was the song on everyone's lips, the hip-hop song that took over the season, with even the likes of Wizkid spotted vibing to the tune.

Currently sitting at over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms, the song topped charts, even breaking records in the process. "Ekorso" maintained the number one spot on Apple Music's Hip-Hop/Rap: Ghana chart for two months uninterrupted, a first in the history of the chart. It also had a good stint at number one of the Ghana Top 100 chart as well, among several other accolades.

Even though he's the creator of what could be the biggest song of Ghana's drill movement till date, Kofi Jamar doesn't plan on replicating his past music or his past moves. He has just issued his second EP, a 6-track project titled Appetite for Destruction, and it would surprise you to know that there isn't a single drill song on it. Although drill played a huge role in his meteoric rise, he wants to be known as way more than just a drill rapper. He wants to be known as a complete and versatile artist, unafraid to engage in any genre — and he even looks forward to creating his own genre of music during the course of his career.

We spoke to Kofi Jamar about his latest EP, and he tells us about working with Teni, why he's gravitating away from drill to a new sound, and more. Check out our conversation below.

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