BORN-FREES, Mandela’s Generation of Hope

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From April 11 through June 16, 2019, Museum Hilversum and Ilvy Njiokiktjien will look into the Born-Frees; the generation that was born immediately after the abolition of apartheid in a new and free South Africa. They are considered to be Nelson Mandela’s children. In the multimedia exhibition “Born-Frees – Mandela’s generation of hope,” Njiokiktjien shows how the young people of South Africa are getting on, 25 years after Mandela’s election. 

A particularly topical theme, as the new elections will be held in South Africa on May 8, almost 25 years after Mandela took his oath and was sworn in as the first black president of the Republic of South Africa. He laid the foundation for a new democratic South Africa. Since 2011, Njiokiktjien has been following the Born-Frees, who have had access to equal opportunities for the first time in the history of South Africa. Njiokiktjien’s goal she set for herself is to capture this unique generation through imagery.

In her visual research, Njiokiktjien pays attention to the range of cultures and religions and to the differences in social, economic and cultural principles; her work shows that the life, the views, the possibilities and the ambitions of the Born-Frees differ greatly. There are young people who have defined their own careers and achieved a great deal. This is how a creative class of fashion designers, designers, dancers, and theater makers emerged. On one hand, these young people are successful, but on the other, like their parents, they are faced with unemployment, poverty, and inequality. Njiokiktjien portrays this in a personal and sometimes intimate way.

“Personal experience is the starting point in the exhibition,” says museum director Stef van Breugel. “Ilvy Njiokiktjien poignantly captures the essence. Through photography and film, the visitor can identify with the Born-Free generation and the layering of the exhibition has made the new arrangement in recent South Africa tangible.”