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Seeking a new sense of identity and relevance

The Mzansi youth are a proudly South African generation of diverse, multilingual, vibrant and free young people who are actively defining their place in the world while exploring and developing their own sense of personal identity, relevance and expression in South Africa. This is according to research that 35050 commissioned Instant Grass to do in 2005.
The evolving sense of identity and pride among Mzansi youth is evident in the following trends:
  • The popularity of local fashion designers such as Stoned Cherry and Loxion Kulcha.
  • The listenership figures of free-speaking radio stations such as Yfm that promote a new urban SA lifestyle.
  • The viewership figures of television programmes such as Yizo Yizo and Zola7, created by young people in touch with present-day South Africa, which contributes to a new sense of what it means to be South African.
The modernisation of age-old traditions further enhances its relevance in their lives, for example:
  • The evolution of Kwaito from a cry for freedom to a genre supporting freedom of expression.
  • The mass commercialisation of Lobola since returning to traditional values as the youth places renewed value on this custom as a cultural acknowledgement of marital union, rather than a mere exchange of money.
Mzansi youth are further embarking on powerful forms of individual expression, which include:
  • The popularity of Converse All Stars sneakers for its versatility of wear.
  • Plastic surgery, which is noticeably increasing among young women as they choose to express their independence via body altering operations.
But, perhaps the most common platform for individual expression is the mobile phone.

35050 download statistics show that Mzansi youth are personalising their phones with the latest, most popular or most outrageous ring tones, wallpapers, pictures and logos, often changed on a weekly basis. They look up to "freedom fighters" such as Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Madiba, and Walter Sisulu, wanting their images on their phones as logos and wallpapers - showing an appreciation for the historic, but with an updated look for renewed relevance.


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