"We have problems, big problems ... like killing each other," said seven-year-old Lunga in 1992, a resident of Durban, South Africa.

Lunga is one of 20 seven-year-olds from all over South Africa - black, white, rich and poor - who is interviewed for this longitudinal series.

I am poor. I want to be rich .… When you’re poor you struggle. You ask for food from other houses. You say 'Can I have some sugar?' I want to live with white people.


The series, based on the award-winning version in Britain, follows these children every seven years, tracking their personal growth against the backdrop of their larger society.

In South Africa, 1992 is a time of violence, conflict and political uncertainty. While the apartheid regime is on its deathbed, it is still two years before Mandela is to become president in the first non-racial elections.

In some of the townships, supporters of rival political groups, the ANC (African National Congress) and Inkatha Freedom Party, are involved in violent clashes, with daily death tolls bringing fear across many parts of the country.

Issues of race dominate as the previously segregated communities anticipate the forthcoming political changes.

Against this backdrop we hear these young children talk candidly about their own families, school life and home lifestyles, and of course they share their views on race, poverty and the political violence that surrounds them.

They are at times funny and cute as they wriggle and giggle, poignant and sad as they talk honestly about their own circumstances, and they are sometimes alarming in their frank, undiluted views. Above all, they give us an extraordinary personal insight into their complex country at that time.

Editor's note: This is part of a series of eight films that follows the characters at age 7, 14, 21 and 28.

This film was first broadcast on Al Jazeera English in November 2013

Source: Al Jazeera