On Wednesday, the 27th of April 1994 the first democratic elections were held in South Africa. Freedom day honours this day in South Africa’s history and the people who fought to make this democratic freedom possible. Every year on the 27th of April we remember that our democracy was gained by many people sacrificing their lives to achieve a society no longer rooted in racist laws.
South Africa experienced colonial rule and apartheid, where the white minority government dominated politics, economics and created unjust laws which discriminated against all people of colour. However, apartheid laws were harsher toward Black South Africans who were no longer even regarded as citizens by the apartheid state. Black South Africans were stripped of their citizenship and their human rights.
Racial discrimination has a long history in South Africa. Colonialism started in 1652 and Apartheid officially began in 1948. Decades of fighting for freedom ensued and political violence rocked South Africa. South Africans living inside of South Africa and those abroad continued their efforts. The international community banned South Africa from participating in international sporting events and eventually started enforcing sanctions. The continued efforts of South Africans and the international community lead to the end of Apartheid.
In 1990 anti-apartheid organizations and political parties which fought against apartheid were unbanned. After negotiations which included civil society and the apartheid government, the new constitution was implemented in 1993. South Africa now has one of the best Constitutions in the world. The African National Congress won the election. And Nelson Mandela became the first President of democratic South Africa. On the 10th of May 1994, Mandela was inaugurated.
By Paul Weinberg – direct donation from Author14 October 2009, 19:07:42 (original upload date), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26754876
Sadly South Africa is marred by corruption, violence, and poverty and gender violence. As a nation, we are still struggling to achieve freedom. Whilst writing this post my information search lead me to discover Unfreedom day due to all the inequalities and socio-economic problems that exists in South Africa some groups chose to commemorate Unfreedom day instead of Freedom Day. Unfreedom day is a day where they mourn the injustices of present-day South Africa. “Abahlali used its UnFreedom Day rally to repeat a call for progressive political movements in South Africa to transcend the limits of the factory floor or the shack settlement” (Webster)
On Wednesday the 25th of April 2018 a nationwide strike was held by South African Federation of Trade Union (SAFTU )workers who are aggrieved by the minimum wage rate in South Africa. VAT has drastically increased whilst the minimum wage is only R20 per hour. The strikers are also calling for the Labour Relations Act to be amended and want SAFTU to become part of the National Economic Development and Labour Council. SAFTU is South Africa’s second-largest trade union. There’s also an ongoing bus strike which is leaving workers stranded. Negotiations are continuing.
With all these problems facing South Africa, the political mood in the country amongst ordinary citizens tends to be tense. But, we remain hopeful. We still have a strong constitution. Cyril Ramaphosa our new president may be able to turn things around; he is a multibillion-rand business owner who has already gained investment funds from the UK. Our former president Jacob Zuma is being charged and investigated for corruption. South African athletes are making our nation proud. Our Truth and reconciliation process is being adapted and implemented in countries like Canada for example. The very fact that we can strike is wonderful since this was banned during apartheid. I will not celebrate Unfreedom day tomorrow for in my opinion much has been achieved yet there’s still so much more to achieve. Freedom day serves to remind us of where we as South Africans come from, what we have collectively, and what our forefathers have fought for. And we are reminded of the struggle we still need to continuously fight for. Happy freedom day to every South African!
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