Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Memoirs of a Born-Free

Reflections on the New South Africa by a Member of the Post-apartheid Generation

by Malaika wa Azania


Foreword by Simphiwe Dana

Apartheid isn't over—so Malaika Wa Azania boldly argues in Memoirs of a Born Free, her account of growing up black in modern-day South Africa. Malaika was born on October 19, 1991, as the white minority government was on its way out, making her a "Born Free"—the name given to the generation born after the end of apartheid. But Malaika has experienced firsthand what she calls "institutionalized racism," apartheid's legacy in the so-called Rainbow Nation. Recounting her upbringing in a black township racked by poverty and disease, the death of a beloved uncle at the hands of white police, and her alienation at multiracial schools, she evokes a country still held in thrall by de facto apartheid. She takes us through her anger and disillusionment with the myth of black liberation to the birth and development of her dedication to the black consciousness movement, which continues to be a guiding force in her life. A trenchant, audacious, and ultimately hopeful narrative, Memoirs of a Born Free introduces an important new voice in South African—and, indeed, global—activism.

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Malaika wa Azania, born Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi, is a social activist hailing from the township of Soweto. Raised by a single mother, a social justice activist, Malaika discovered politics at a young age. Malaika is currently a student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she is studying toward a geography and anthropology degree. In December 2014 she was elected to be the regional coordinator of UNESCO's Pan African Youth Network on the Culture of Peace in the South African region.