Listen to Teenagers Talking
By Sihle Manana
I am a sucker for horror and supernatural movies and a fan of metal rock and Hip-Hop music.
Being a South African teenager comes with its ups and downs. Sometimes it becomes a living nightmare because there will be no day when a person like me would not face discrimination unless we spend our time indoors. This is because I was born with a medical condition called albinism.
Growing up and now as a teenager I’ve been called names such as “mlungu”. People also point at me and will say things like I bath with milk. I once had an emotional breakdown ,but through the support of my parents I overcame it.
Now I am more of an independent minded person. In other words I have hopes and dreams for the youth of this country. When I think about race, skin colour and stigma I don’t just think about the ordinary like Black, White, Coloured, and Indian but also albinism. People and children must be brought on board more often on understanding and protecting people with albinism and avoiding making them feel like outsiders or another unwanted race.
There are also other negative things that prevent young people’s dreams from flourishing such as adults who see children- especially teenagers- as a burden. I think the better way to resolve this obstacle is for adults in South Africa to have a more positive view about children and not to discourage them. And yes, from time to time we might mess up and be trouble but you should know that all grownups have gone through this stage and know what it was like.
I also think that government needs to listen to us more and react more attentively when the youth raise certain issues as delaying such things may also cause some more protests and massacres along the way.
We have seen 22 years of democracy in South Africa now and in this period of time we have become more diverse than during the Apartheid era. For me, I may say that I am blessed to be born after all that time of hardship because democracy allows people to have a voice compared to when the system was closed off during Apartheid. And the rights of children are now being noticed.
*This article was first published in the City Press, 30 October on page 5.