April 27 marks the Freedom Day for South Africa. Freedom Day is the commemoration of the first democratic elections that was held in South Africa on April 27, 1994. This happened to be the first post-apartheid national elections to be held in South Africa, where citizens regardless of their race or color could vote.
The first elections that was held on 27th April 1994 birthed South Africa’s constitutional democracy. This restored dignity for the majority of South Africans who had never voted because of a racial, sexist and undemocratic society. South Africa is the country it is today because of the countless sacrifices of many South Africans who fought tirelessly to overcome the brutal apartheid system but prior to this, during apartheid, racial segregation which was enforced by the National Party prevented any kind of inter-racial activity. Under the apartheid regime, non-whites had only limited rights to vote while South Africans had no voting rights. Freedom Day is a public holiday in South Africa that is celebrated on 27th April annually.
This Day happens to be a day of glory and remembrance for all South Africans because it marks the end of the period of apartheid and colonialism. Freedom Day to South Africans is an inclusive celebration that enables them to commemorate the pain of the past and celebrate the victorious future of South Africa.
Freedom Day is a memorable event throughout South Africa and each year the National Celebration forms the basis for conveying the message of unity in diversity for all. They use this day to enforce a change in the attitude of South Africans through their unique culture and diverse ethnic background to inspire the people of South Africa to be innovative and build up a better South Africa.
We can never talk of South African’s Freedom History without mentioning the name of Nelson Mandela for his historic contribution to the freedom struggle of his people. He has been accepted not just in South Africa but worldwide as one of the most significant black leaders. He is a man who became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. Nelson Mandela consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom. He remained the symbolic leader of the anti-apartheid movement and became its most visible face within South Africa and throughout the world. Now Nelson Mandela is remembered as a leading voice for peace and social justice in Africa and throughout the world. He is remembered as a symbol of hope. Every year on July 18, he is remembered on Nelson Mandela International Day.
A day declared by the United Nations General Assembly as Nelson Mandela Day in 2010. This is a day set aside to give credence to the Former President’s commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation. This day is celebrated yearly to throw more light on the legacy of a man who changed the 20th century and helped shape the 21st.
The Theme for this year’s Freedom Day celebration is “The year of Charlotte Maxeke: The meaning of freedom under Covid-10”. This year’s commemoration marks 27 years of freedom and democracy since South Africa’s first non-racial democratic election in 1994. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of struggle icon and human rights campaigner Charlotte Maxeke. She and other selfless women of her generation fought against oppression at a time when such defiance was met with unrelenting force.
The commemoration comes at a time when South Africa is about to embark on a massive vaccination program. They are calling on everyone to use the Freedom Month and Freedom Day celebration to pull together over the coming weeks and months and also continue to fight the virus while striving for greater inclusion and social cohesion.Freedom Dayhonor all the progress (big or small) and improvements that have been made since the 1944 election but it also reminds the people of South Africa of the ways they can continue to unify the great nation in the name of equality.
Kandifo Institute wishes South Africa and its citizens a happy Freedom Day. We send our warm congratulations and best wishes to you, the Government, and the people of the Republic of South Africa. Let us continue to love one another and unite and not forgetting to be hopeful and optimistic towards the future.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of other” – Nelson Mandela.