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Q&As with South African Community Members: Growing up in South Africa

Posted: June 5, 2020

Q&As with South African Community Members: Growing up in South Africa


Following on from our previous blog, “Q&As with South African Community Members: Community and Volunteering”, this blog explores what it is like for South Africans growing up in South Africa. The below questions were asked to adult community members currently living in Cape Town, and gives an insight into the challenges for them growing up, what they feel the biggest challenges are for South Africans today, and what makes them proud of South Africa and their culture.

What was the biggest challenge for you growing up in South Africa?
– “The biggest challenge was being aware of what separates us as people. Without being told, I could see because of race some things were harder to get for us”
– “Having a non-present father, a challenge that mostly affects black communities”
– “The biggest challenge for me was a lack of opportunities and access to facilities. When I was growing up, I could only play soccer and there was not even a soccer field. There were no career exhibitions etc, so you were studying but you had no idea of what career options there were. You had to rely on your parents, and if your parents are not educated, then you had to rely on your teacher to help you decide what is the best career, so there was very limited career guidance. There’s a lot of talent, but the facilities are not there”
– “Getting a good education without the resources that other communities had”
– “The biggest challenge for me growing up was the racial and social inequalities, and still for me, this is a big challenge”
– “Finding role models within my community that were optimistic about the future and available opportunities that could place us on equal footing with our white counterparts”
– “Apartheid left me with a generation of pessimists and very few optimists”
– “The biggest challenge for me is that we didn’t have enough opportunities that would assist us e.g. access to sports”


What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing your community/South Africa currently?
– “Drug abuse and alcohol abuse is a big challenge and unemployment makes it hard for young people to have hope for themselves”
– “Gender based violence, inequality and poverty”
– “The biggest challenge currently is youth unemployment”
– “The biggest challenges for the communities are corruption and drugs”
– “A lack of opportunities to study further in tertiary and employment thereafter, there are many graduates who are sitting at home with no employment opportunities”
– “I think the biggest challenge is people not finishing school and seeing the value of school and education as a way out of poverty. Also, drug abuse and growing social inequality is a big challenge”
– “The failing economy and youth unemployment”

What makes you proud of South Africa?
– “Our diversity and humanity”
– “The culture and traditions, the way South Africans value each other, the brotherhood to even a stranger, it makes me a proud South African”
– “The resilience of its people”
– “We are a resilient nation and we are a hopeful nation; we believe in our capacity to do things for ourselves. We act as a unit and we have ubuntu (togetherness), even though we are struggling, we are still able to help each other. We are able to make our own fun and be happy”
– “My favourite thing about South Africa is the fact that it’s a rainbow nation and I get to interact with people from diverse backgrounds”
– “Daily seeing people coming from very difficult circumstances and making a success of their lives and their success, in turn, helping their families and the people in their communities. The togetherness of the country in times of struggle”
– “Even though we haven’t healed and live in one of the most unequal societies in the world, we have hope”

What’s your favourite thing about South African culture?
– “Our respect for one another”
– “My favourite thing is that you can cross the street and be in a completely different context. This means that you can learn a lot about so many different cultures and religions and gain a lot of strengths and learnings from it. The community I come from was very mixed and we learnt a lot from each other in terms of cooking food, customs and traditions etc, and that helped me to grow a great tolerance for differences”
– “The diversity of the culture”
– “Despite our different tribes, different cultures and different sub-cultures, we are all able to live together and understand each other’s cultures”
– “Its diverse and rich history”


What becomes apparent through these community members’ views, and to anyone visiting South Africa, is that whilst there may be many challenges that still face South Africans, their passion, hope and vibrant culture still shines through.

If you have found it interesting hearing from South African community members, be sure to also look out for our upcoming blog on misconceptions about South Africa and South Africans’ recommendations on things to try out whilst in visiting South Africa.

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