Generation Us

We are the neglected generation. We are a generation born to seekers. We are a generation born to the wrong people at the wrong time; born to people who wanted the sort of ‘more’ which maternity and paternity simply could not afford, could not provide.

We are born to parents who wanted careers, who wanted love, who wanted to see the world, who wanted the world. And we always came a sorry and abandoned second… neglected. We are a generation left to grandmothers frail and haggard…in no mood… no disposition to raise and rear. We are a generation left to uncles’ vices…some drunk, some abusive. We are grateful of course, because our parents pursued careers so that they could later better provide for us. We are grateful that they pursued love because they brought us back mothers/fathers better than our original, our biological. And their travels gave us a sense of the world, so that we too, in turn, could be worldly.

Later though…

Later, when we were already resentful; later when we were broken; later when we had no sense of self, a threatened and starved sense of identity…shattered, in tatters… spiritless. Later when we had had to learn and unlearn characteristics and habits of uncles, of aunts, of neighbours or whoever had had to step in; with our parents gone and our grandparents too old and too tired to instill, to inspire, to raise us.

Identities further strayed, vices embraced…

But we want better.

We want to do better. We want to build better families and raise better children. Scarcely skilled for life; adopted drug and liquor habits barely shrugged, and raised in medleys of opinion, of rules, of teachings; we want better, we want to do better. Wanting to do better, we let go of the unwanted habits of our uncles, the neighbours and the aunts who raised us: in the new dispensation, they simply will do…

Wanting to be better, we try to forget our nightmares and terrors of neglect. We try to forget the evenings when our grandmothers’ ‘pensions’ could do no more than unbuttered brown bread and black tea… it is, after all, a new day, a new dawn… a suburban dawn… of pools, gardeners and rose gardens. It’s a dawn of shopping complexes, not spazas.

Wanting to do better we try to make sense of our mothers’ teachings of independence, self-reliance, careers, ambitions…pitted against our men’s demands for submissive, child-rearing wives. Wanting to be the strong providers we have been taught to be, we find ourselves failing, matched against women who leave our children at crèche, who leave our children with nannies; women who are chasing careers, never home to serve home-cooked dinners. We find ourselves in a country which would have our women make more money than we do.

Wanting to do better, we kiss and fuck more; hoping it will all translate to love…hoping it may curb the demands of intensity from the ones we are with. We don’t know how else to love. Nobody taught us, nobody loved us. We want to be better, we want to do better but we just don’t know better. So we wonder and wander, licking our wounds of neglect at every turn.

We are the neglected generation… born to seekers, born to be seekers.


Writer: Nomfundo Shezi      Photographer: Caprisel