We are Africa’s “born-frees” :: a generation of Narcissists?

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“Me, myself and I that’s all I got in the end, that’s what I found out…” Beyonce

I was born in 1990 in Zimbabwe, 10 years after independence from British rule. My mother was born 35 years before that, in a country with a different name but the same landscape- Rhodesia. When Mariah and Jonathan (my grandparents) met, she was a domestic worker and he was a manual labourer. He later became a metalworker for the national railways and she a housewife.

They worked hard for their children. When my mother met my father she was a qualified nurse – diplomas in midwifery and psychiatry – and he was an academic, a history professor and then a politician.

A friend of mine once commented on the affinity my father and I share. He is a history professor with a minor in Economics, I studied the former until my third year of university and graduated with a degree in the latter. My father’s dream was to be a lawyer, a dream he gave up as a young man, I wrote my final law exams a few weeks ago.

We all share something in common with our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors, but

we are so different. My father and I recall different histories. In the broad sense, his is one of poverty, racial segregation and the suppression of the majority. I was born into privilege, integration and the rule of the majority.

And so we view ourselves and the world differently. I’ve always found it funny that my father says “we” when he speaks about a decision he himself has made, “We are going to sell this and buy that.”, he says. His view of the world is essentially collective. I find that strange because mine is individualistic.

Our generation is the “i” generation – iPhone, iPad, iPod.The generation of selfies.

Funny.

But sad. Because in every generation, change has come through people who saw beyond the “I” and found their place, their role in the “We”. People like Nelson Mandela who sacrificed their own individual ambition, comfort, safety, their lives…

For us.

I think we have a long way to go, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.

shula

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