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Freedom Day during a pandemic

We are all facing a world that is locked down in some form or another. So, when it came to celebrating South Africa’s Freedom Day on the 27th of April this year, it did seem slightly different.

Historically Freedom Day is a public holiday in South Africa celebrated on the 27th of April. It celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994. 

These elections were the first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age of over 18 from any race group, including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa, were allowed to vote. Previously, under the apartheid regime, non-whites in general had only limited rights to vote while black South Africans had no voting rights whatsoever.

I remember being 10 years old on this day, standing in a queue with my mum and dad while they waited to vote and hearing thousands and thousands of voices singing and laughing and women dancing. A day the country celebrated because it was the first time we all had equal rights.

On the first commemoration of the holiday, our former President Nelson Mandela addressed Parliament with these words “As a new dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. 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.”

South Africa has pioneered a new and progressive constitution, world renowned as one of the most democratic constitutions on the planet and something the people of this great nation are extremely proud of. It protects us all, regardless of where we come from or what we look like and to this day we still celebrate these freedoms on this auspicious day in April.

As we continue our Level 1 adjusted lockdown here in South Africa, we realize what a different kind of freedom we, as a Nation, have missed and what the world misses the most. Freedom to explore, visit and socialize, freedom from illness, sickness and death, freedom from poverty, freedom to move, travel and be young.

While we look at what freedoms the pandemic has taken away from us, we also must remember that progress takes time. Through the hard work, and dedication of the doctors, nurses, and scientists, our leaders, front line men and women, and the families across the world, we continue to fight for another type of Freedom. Freedom from illness. If we learn from the past, we learn that it is only through the struggle that we earn this freedom.

I wish you all safety and good health.

Vanessa Cloete (Product and Sales Manager)
The Good Hope Volunteer Team

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