This years theme is “Valuing Our Freedom In Difficult Times”
”…And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. 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.”On the first commemoration of the holiday, President Nelson Mandela addressed Parliament
On the 27th of April 26 years ago, South Africa held its first democratic elections. Freedom Day was set to mark the liberation of South Africa and its people from a long period of colonialism and White minority domination (apartheid).
Before the elections, South Africans faced racial segregation which was enforced by the National Party to prevent inter-racial activity.
Here is a basic timeline that led up to the first elections:
1948 : Apartheid officially began. The National Party introduces it to enforce separate developments of racial groups. It banned inter-marriage and social integration between races.
1960: Demonstrations discarding their passbooks to protest apartheid. Police kill 69 people and injure hundreds in the Sharpeville massacre. The ANC and other organisations are banned.
1962: Nelson Mandela is imprisoned.
1990: ANC and other organisations are unbanned. Nelson Mandela released
1992: The Bisho Massacre and other protests which led to the negotiations that would end protests. A multiracial general election is agreed.
1994: The first democratic election is held. In May, The ANC is voted into power and Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as the president of South Africa.
The years after that led to further historic moments such as;
- The adoption of the National flag and the National Anthem
- Rugby World Cup
- The development of the Coat of Arms
- further elections
On this day, people usually celebrate by visiting historic places such as Robben Island and by hosting parties. However, due to the lockdown, we are all encouraged to stay indoors and to celebrate in our homes.
The theme this year is “Valuing Our Freedom During Difficult Times”
This theme is set to encourage us to stay home so that we may enjoy our freedom in the future. We are also encouraged to continue staying mindful and report abuses by those set to protect us in a lawful manner.
It is also important to be grateful for healthcare workers, cleaners, retail workers and all essential workers who continue to work despite the risks they are exposed to.
Freedom Day is about making history matter. About helping each other create a prosperous, just, equitable and equal society in which we protect and sustain each others humanity.
And lastly, this day serves as a reminder that the guarantee of our freedom requires us to be vigilant against corruption and to work towards eroding racism, inequality and enforcing our rights.
What is happening today?
Today thousands of prisoners are set to be released due to overcrowding and protests.
The President is set to address the nation via Live stream.
In conclusion, Freedom Day reminds us to stay united, remember our history and fight to enforce our rights.