SOUTH AFRICAN FREEDOM: A 20 YEAR OLD BABY
By: Winston Sibanda
Twenty years have gone by and yet the mention of Freedom Day still evokes ideas of a new dawn. Rome was not built in one day, and neither can the ideals espoused in the commemoration of Freedom Day expect to be easily achieved.
This month is for Mother South Africa to look back at her achievements since she became an independent parent. According to the government, this year’s theme is, “Mobilizing society towards consolidating our democracy and freedom,” as said by Paul Mashatile.
Dr Nomncebo Mthembu, who is the founder of Indoni Miss Cultural South Africa, views today’s freedom as an illusion. She talked about how people look down upon their cultures, adopting western practices as this has became a measure of success.
“Today people think they are free and yet they are still oppressed mentally,” said Dr. Mthembu.
Twenty years into democracy, the black majority is still on its knees trying to get up from the dust; and strikes have become the order of the day. They have become a common way of communication between the government and the people. In ushering in the Freedom month, Umlazi residents mobilised a strike demanding the government to fulfill its promise to provide housing.
Today the media is under threat as the protection of information bill is still a topic of discussion in parliament. This will, according to the bill’s opponents, create inconsistencies with the bill of rights which guarantees freedom of expression. Today the nation is left without answers as the Nkandla report fallout is still to be determined. People are turning against each other in a bid to tear down or build up the President. Corruption has taken its toll and Mother South African’s name has become common in crime rate discussions.
Thamsanqa Mguni who is one of the South Africa’s youth said, “Mandela must be turning in his grave since greed has taken over our government and we are the ones who suffer.”
The nation has not been all bad and no good. South Africa has a lot to celebrate. She has one of the youngest democracies in Africa and yet she has become a bread winner of the continent. Her fallen heroes are celebrated globally, the likes of O.R Tambo and Nelson Mandela.
The topic of freedom is not complete without the mention of Nelson Mandela who ushered it in as the first democratic president of South Africa. Many people think of cruelty and the oppression of apartheid when talking about freedom. This day has become a day to flash back to the memories of the past rather that celebrating the fruits of the struggle. However, some politicians have described Mandela as a symbol of comfort and joy as the country celebrates its 20th anniversary as a colonial free zone.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC Senzo Mchunu said, “At any mention of Tata Nelson Mandela, the faces of the people of KwaZulu-Natal lighten up, as he represents the end of suffering and hope for a better future.”
The government cannot impress everyone. People always find reason to place blame, however today the government still has dreams and it is trying to fulfill them. Today it is striving to achieve free education for all. This was said by President Jacob Zuma in his last state of the nation address. It has lent a helping hand to many nations and today it has accommodated different nationalities in its land.
Freedom is a controversial issue globally as every right comes with a responsibility. The rights have brought about a clash between religion and cultural beliefs. According to BDlive statistics, South Africa’s constitution is one of the best the continent has. This is the month for her citizens to put aside their differences and celebrate their achievements.