his Tuesday, South Africa celebrates 27 years since the first post-Apartheid democratic elections (Freedom Day). It was back in 1994 when the first non-racial national elections took place which allowed every one of voting age of over 18 from any race group, including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa, to vote!
The elections saw Nelson Mandela and the ANC step into power and ushered in a new dawn for South Africa and its citizens. As we commemorate this momentous day in our history, some of Mzansi’s most popular celebrities share their messages of hope to the citizens of this incredibly special country.
Television and radio personality Carol Ofori says that Freedom Day is one of the most momentous days in South Africa’s history and a day she can’t wait to tell her kids about. “Freedom Day is a day that is so special to me. I remember the day so clearly as a kid when South Africa took to the polls and voted for the first time in a free fair and democratic election. For my children, it’s a day I need to educate them about. I want them to see footage of that day and just how special it was. I want them to know that we, as South Africans, are a family as dynamic and ambitious as we are because we can do and be anything. Our skin colour that was once in the past used to reduce us, now just puts us as part of a rainbow nation where we are ALL included and able to live our dreams Happy Freedom Day, South Africa!”
For television presenter Thabiso, Freedom Day is a time to look back at what we have accomplished and, more so, a time to look to the future. “Nothing is quite as fundamental as having a voice and being able to use that voice to make choices that inspire the flow of your life. Freedom Day represents that for me – the freedom to choose to be heard. In today’s world, we are constantly having to create meaning for our lives. Every day we find ourselves having to defend our ideals, whether this is politics or the freedom to express our voices without restraint. These are important things that shape our place in the world and help us build societies that feel safe. It is incredibly empowering. As we commemorate freedom day this year, I hope that we all take stock of how far we have come as a nation.
“I hope that we take a moment to reflect on what ideals of ours have been upheld and enforced by the values of freedom. As we do this, may we also reflect on our own behaviours towards others and ask ourselves if we are doing enough to defend and respect the freedom of others whose stance may be different to our own – i.e the LGBTIQ+ communities and other minority groups. I hope that we also commit ourselves to be more vocal about all things that threaten our stability as a nation, be aggressively vocal about economic and political shifts that go against the ideals of our nation. Happy Freedom Day.”
Presenter, businesswoman and media personality Kriya Gangiah says that while the world continues to fight for equality, it’s days like these that remind us just how far we have come. “Freedom is an ongoing process and, even though we are technically a free country, there are still people that suffer from injustices. As we celebrate our past triumphs we need to look to the future and strive to become 110% free! That being said, it’s incredible to see just how far our beautiful country has come in just 27 years – and for that, we celebrate! Happy Freedom Day, South Africa.”
For singer, songwriter and producer Daniel Baron, Freedom Day is a time to self-reflect and continue pushing for freedom in every sense of the word. “Freedom Day is such an important milestone in South Africa’s history and one we should never take for granted. Free and fair elections are what has helped shape South Africa into such a dynamic country.
“The way that I relate to being free, is to be able to do what I love each day – which is making the music that I want to make without being told what to do or how to do it. It’s not about being a rebel, it’s about understanding who we are as human beings and how we can best contribute to making our world a better place. We do this by being the best people we can be whilst selflessly being free.”
Radio and television personality Pabi Moloi says that we should all be as strong as those who fought for freedom in this country adding that it’s our responsibility to uplift those around us on our own journey to freedom. “When speaking about Freedom Day, I like to think that we all understand that we are not quite free yet. Politically things may be happening, economically things may be happening that cause us a lot of strife.
“I suspect one of the things we can learn from those who come before us is that even in the midst of the challenge and even in the midst of how overwhelming it is, they never gave up. So if you have a purpose or if you have a cause or something inside of your heart that is making you really feel that you have to keep moving, do it. And as you take a step up, reach down and hold somebody’s hand and give them a step up with you. That’s the only way we can have ultimate freedom – when we free our minds.”
As the new host of 5FM’s lunchtime slot, Zanele Potelwa knows the importance of having hard conversations and inspiring ourselves to be the best version of ourselves possible – especially on a day like Freedom Day. “I see Freedom Day as one where we reflect as well as a day where we look to the future! Yes, we have to celebrate the heroes who came before us and allowed us to be where we are now, but we also have the responsibility to continue to make our country an even better place for those who come after us. The question is ‘What legacy will we live for them to celebrate?’.
“I think it’s the only way to thank and honour our freedom fighters and it’s also our understanding that there’s still so much work to be done in our country – socially, educationally and in many different spaces for many marginalised groups in society.”