By Lukhangele Mayende
Poverty, unemployment, corruption and economic inequality seems to be the only things that are dominating in this year’s Freedom Day 2021. April 27 is the date that was set aside to demarcate the day that South Africans had their first unbiased and free to all elections, following decades of the apartheid government that was known for oppressing and violating human rights.
This is the day that almost everyone had hoped it would bring about change in everyone’s livelihood, and it kind of did when comparing it to the kind of life that was lived prior to the don of democracy. In respect of that this year’s Freedom Day comes at a time where the country is under siege of a deadly virus COVID19, which striped the country’s investment rate.
This April 27 will mark 27 years of Freedom Day, however this year’s buildup to the celebration has a cold feel. With many people losing their jobs and poor getting poorer Freedom Day has become a meaningless event.
Speaking to Yonela Mtsekana, an Mdantsane resident about the effectiveness of Freedom Day in this day and age and what it means to her she said, “I never thought about it because I was born free, but to me it’s a reminder of the apartheid government and the rights and privileges we now have that were never there in the apartheid era.”
Mtsekana added, “To me yes we are free because there is healthcare for people that have tested positive for COVID and also there were special grants given to people as form of financial relief. So even if we are not all financially secured but government is trying the best to cater everyone.”
After 1994 a new nation was born a rainbow nation, or are made to believe this?
Bangilifa Ntozini who experienced the hardship of the apartheid government said otherwise about freedom in South Africa.
“To me freedom is just a word. We are free because we can cue in the same line with a white man, share a toilet and shop together, but privileges and being financially secure is something that has never happened and I doubt it will ever happen. Yes, government is providing people with these types of grants but tell me what can be done with a social grant besides feeding yourself. Also with RDP houses government is building and not everyone is allocated a house, I’ve been living in a shack since 1989 till date. You tell me where is freedom in that,” said Ntozini.
As we welcome the public holiday it is a time to reflect back on some of the freedom fighters who died at the hands of an unjust and inhuman apartheid state without ever experiencing the free South Africa they fought so hard for such as Steve Biko, Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge, Hector Pieterson, David Webster, Solomon Mhlangu and the Sharpville victims to name a new.
Freedom means people before profit, it means people must come first. South African’s need to distinguish between freedom and privileges to determine what is the true meaning of freedom. By that it will mean that people’s dominion and rights have been restored.