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Raiza Biza: Chasing freedom

Friday 29th November 2013

The Wireless asked local writers and bloggers to explore the idea of “free” as it relates to a part of their lives. In the fourth of the series, rapper Raiza Biza writes about the hope of finding freedom in post-Apartheid South Africa, where he grew up.

Freedom is a word and concept that is thrown around very often, but seldom really understood. In fact, what I understand to be freedom is probably nowhere close to what it really means.

But I don't think that that matters. Through our experiences, both good and bad, we formulate our own ideas on what it means to be free.

Having lived in as many places as I have, I find that the way I see the world is always evolving.

My family and I moved to South Africa when I was 4. It must have been 1991.

Even as a young child, I could feel that something big was happening. I could tell that there was some kind of transition occurring. This was the period when South Africa was dismantling the previous Apartheid era. The first election where black people were allowed to vote.

In 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected as the first African president of South Africa. I was seven-years-old and present at the inauguration. The sea of faces around me were full of hope, a new belief and excitement about the future.

A feeling of freedom. Freedom from the oppressive Apartheid regime that had stripped the rights of Black Africans for as far back as one could remember.

As one could expect, the road to freedom was not a smooth one. When I was growing up, South Africa was a place full of potential, but a place full of desperation.

A place where poor people had to do anything they could to survive. Violence was rife. Crime was rampant. And there was still a large gap between the rich and the poor.

Whereas once upon a time, my father took us to South Africa to enjoy the freedoms that were soon to come, he now wanted to move us to New Zealand in search of a different kind of freedom.

Freedom is an idea that I am still trying to grasp. My father’s definition is different from mine. I have grown up in a world where I have the freedom to get an education, the freedom to express my ideas.

In my point of view, the freedom to pursue ones dreams, is the one I cherish the most. In a few years, my definition and search from freedom will have evolved, and so will I.

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