Kopano Lebelo
BORN: Pretoria, South Africa
INTERVIEWED IN: Pretoria, South Africa
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: Madelene Cronje

Kopano Lebelo grew up during apartheid in a township near Pretoria where, when he was still a teenager, he was drafted by the ANC to recruit others in the struggle. Through his work with the ANC, he lived, studied and worked in various countries on the continent and in Europe, later studying for his master’s degree in the United States. Since 2001, he has lived in suburban Pretoria with his teenage daughter, and is largely disengaged from formal political activism.

     I regard myself as one of the lucky ones, exposed to fighting for liberation at an early age. It took away my childhood and my youth, which I didn’t enjoy much, but the ANC moulded me and made me what I am today. I go back to the township now and I look at the people I grew up with and not even one can identify me as somebody that they know. All they think is, please can you buy me booze or give me a few bucks? I see myself through them and think, well, this is me if I hadn’t gone out of the country.

     I understand South Africans that take to the street because they feel that our government is not doing enough. It is totally not doing enough to address the issues that affect every one of us. The government is scared the United Nations will look at them in a bad way, but is the UN looking at America for what the Americans are saying about foreigners? Is the UN saying anything? No.