I am grateful (reflection inspired by GLS and the 21 Icons art exhibition).

I was born in 1996, in post-apartheid South Africa
I was born a black female into a minority culture – Xitsonga
I grew up at a rural village called Nkwinyamahembe, in Mpumalanga
– My background has shaped who I have become

During my adolescence, I moved to the Western Cape,
Where I realized that I am different
That my culture is so minor that majority of South Africans either don’t know about it or consider it to be foreign national
I realized that I had been deprived of a certain part of my history –
That I was shortsighted
– But I pretended not to care; I convinced myself that what I didn’t know probably didn’t matter.

And then I came to university:
With all the daily confrontations with the need for change and transformation,
I could no longer fake ignorance.
I started to want to know more, and the more knowledge I acquired, the more questions I had.
I started to question and then question some more.
– My curiosity led me to places I never knew existed

I am grateful for all the above mentioned

I am grateful that I was born after the Apartheid Era, not because of fear, but because there were so many wonderful people during that time who were meant to bring us freedom –
Just as I believe that I am one of the young people who must carry this dream/vision forward.

I am grateful that we have role models to look up to and living legends to guide us in this road to reconciliation between South Africans of different cultures, genders, races, social classes, and other areas of inequality.
I am grateful that we have stories from which to learn what not to do, and that we have the creativity to come up with new strategies that will work for our generation.

I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to make a difference, even if it is by inspiring other young people to actually “do something”.

I am grateful that the shade of my skin complexion, my culture and home language, my gender, and my social class do not define me – but rather form part of my complex identity. I am grateful that I can hold hands with other young people from different cultures, racial and gender groups, and social backgrounds to make a tremendous difference in our country – one which could not be achieved under segregation.

But most of all,
I thank God that I am a South African.

Kay-Dee Mashile

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2 thoughts on “I am grateful (reflection inspired by GLS and the 21 Icons art exhibition).

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