Twenty-one years after the beginning of multiracial democracy in South Africa, the Born Frees—the first generation of the so-called rainbow nation—have come of age. While they have inherited a free country from parents who fought long and hard against apartheid, theirs is not a story purely of triumph. As Lisa Nene, a housing rights activist and AIDS orphan questioned, “When you say we are free, it is something that I have to wake up and feel everyday. So where is the freedom if I do not feel it?” Her question has many layers. She is a young woman who has been forced to grow up fast and who finds herself fighting just as hard against the corruption of the current government as her parents had fought for freedom a generation ago. It is the unique perspectives of people like Lisa and the many others I have met that have led me to return, year after year, to document the experiences of a youth generation looking intently at their world, their country, and their place in it—The Born Frees.

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