Born Frees’ Sound Off On Upcoming South African Elections

Born Frees, the first generation to grow up with no memory of apartheid, prepare to vote on the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial election.

. April 27 marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first multi-racial elections, which ended three centuries of white domination and 46 years of formalized oppression of the black majority under the apartheid system.

Today, 20 million South Africans – approximately 40 percent of the population – are called "Born Frees," the term bestowed on the first generation to grow up with no memory of apartheid. Some will soon be voting for the first time in their country's upcoming general election. Reuters photographers Mike Hutchings, Siphiwe Sibeko and Rogan Ward shot a series of portraits of Born Frees and asked them what this election means to them.

ABOVE: Khulasande Matabese, 18, prepares to register for elections scheduled for May 7, at a friend's home in Langa township, Cape Town on Feb. 8. He said: "It is important for us as young people to go and vote for political parties that give us something to do, they should all create jobs and educational opportunities. If we all are positive, as I am, combined we can make a difference."

Mike Hutchings / Reuters

. First-time voter Thandi Mamacos, 18, sits in the lounge of her shared apartment in Cape Town on April 19. Thandi said that it is "definitely important for young people to vote because they are the ones who will have to live with the outcome the longest. It's more our country than the older generation who may not want to change things that need to be changed because of what has happened in the past."

Mike Hutchings / Reuters

. Youth worker Nathaniel Groep, 19, stands in front of flats outside his home in Mannenberg, a gang-ravaged township, in Cape Town on April 18. Nathaniel said, "Every vote counts, particularly for young people. For our generation there are new possibilities and maybe we can build a brighter future. The issues I would like to see addressed are gangsterism, peer pressure and the lack of work opportunities."

Mike Hutchings / Reuters

. Potential first-time voter Luyanda Malinga, 20, stands outside her home in Marianhill, near Durban on April 10. Luyanda said, "I am not voting. I don't see there's a need for me to vote because there is nothing that has changed ever since people started to voting". She added "The main issue for me is education. I finished grade 12 in 2011. Ever since I did not receive any bursaries, nothing. I couldn't go to varsity at all yet I had passed very well. In those political parties you have to be involved in their stuff, you have to be a youth member to get all these things."

Rogan Ward / Reuters

. Second-year civil engineering student and first-time voter Nkululeko Simelane poses for a picture at Wits University in Johannesburg on April 22. Nkululeko said "For me voting for the first time... I don't want to lie I don't have the energy. The only thing that is pushing me to vote is that it is for the first time I don't want to miss it."

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

. First-time voter Sanele Chileze looks though the window of his home in Embo township outside Durban on April 10. "We have to secure the legacy of Mandela," Sanele said. "That's why it is very important for us to vote, for this nation to be straight and everyone can be free. If I don't vote I can't say anything, if I vote I can say something."

Rogan Ward / Reuters