Who are you? Identity formation may be deeply personal, but it’s also a collective phenomenon. Consider South Africa’s own ongoing identity crisis. The country is pushed and pulled in every direction; our own anxieties seem to manifest, sometimes, in national headlines. We grapple with inequality. We try to reckon with a history of incredible cruelty. We reach back 26 years in search of the same hope that painted 1994 as a golden year. It hurts us. But no matter how uncomfortable the process, it also shapes us. So it is for young people’s collective identity crisis. They are hurt, and shaped, and enraged, and calmed and, ultimately, they become themselves – whatever that self may be.

In this third issue of the Human Factor we explore young people’s own stories – in their own words and through their own art. We delve into the secrets of their rapidly developing, ever-evolving brains. And we consider what might happen if, finally, we see young people as potent allies who are fully part of a society that’s as complex, changeable and profoundly beautiful as they all are.

Read issue 3:

Have you given some thought to some of the topics that have been explored through the art and stories in this issue? Express yourself – send images of your art, videos, songs, poetry, essays and we will choose a selection of the most poignant work to add to this page. Everyone who contributes will get a printed copy of this issue (while we have stock). Send your work to

The words and art of young people gave us hope during the difficult year of 2020. We hope that it can do the same for you in 2021.