27 April: South Africans must not forget the legacy of Freedom Day

South Africans must not forget the sacrifices made to experience freedom as we celebrate our 23rd Freedom Day.

Freedom Day, celebrated annually on 27 April, commemorates the day when the first democratic elections in South Africa took place.

“We should never forget the history of South Africa,” said Dr Ubanesia Adams-Jack, a lecturer from Stellenbosch University’s Department of Political Science, when referring to South Africa’s history of oppression.

“We have to remember the sacrifices that people made for us to be able to exercise the freedom that we have today,” said Adams-Jack, adding that South Africans should have respect for the legacy of Freedom Day.

Nelson Mandela casting his vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 at Ohlange High School in Durban. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Anja Boonzaier, a third year BA Humanities student at Stellenbosch University, said that although post-apartheid means freedom and equality for all South Africans, the effects of apartheid can still be seen in today’s society.

“To me, Freedom Day should be a day of reflection,” said Devonecia Swartz, a second year BA Drama student at Stellenbosch University.
“In South Africa I feel like the day doesn’t hold the weight and the celebration that it deserves”, said Swartz.

Gavin Janse van Rensburg, an optometrist, agrees that the legacy of Freedom Day is more relevant than ever in the context of South Africa today.

“We have a long way to go, but we should keep on building a better South Africa where everyone can live in harmony; a country where South Africans respect each other.”

Dr. Adams-Jack also encouraged people to “respect the past and embrace the opportunities that a post-apartheid South Africa has to offer.”
As former president Nelson Mandela said as he spoke to parliament on the first commemoration of the holiday: “Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.”

-Marli van Eeden

The new South African flag adopted on 27 April 1994. It was designed by Frederick Brownell according to specifications in the South African Constitution. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons