“Aluta Continua” – the struggle for true freedom continues
Author: Nomathamsanqa Stock – Candidate Attorney
*Supervised by Candice Pillay – Director
As South Africa commemorates Freedom Day on 27 April, we are forced to ask the question of whether freedom (in its entirety) was achieved on 27 April 1994.
It is on this day that the first democratic elections were held, when millions of people, for the first time, exercised their right to vote – political freedom was achieved! Many people on that day celebrated the end of an era of oppression, an era of inhumanness, an era of inequality and marginalization of peoples’ rights. It is on this day that we remember the brutalities inflicted on those whose quest was for our freedom as a nation, and we remember the words of Thabo Mbeki: “We all still carry the scars that remind us that our freedom that is at times taken for granted, was never free.”
I was not yet born at the time – but I had the most incredible experience of living that moment through my father’s memories. From the way he cast his vote and how tearful that moment was for him and many others, to singing liberation songs such as “Mandela my president” on their journey back home. A moment of deep and painful relief for many and a moment of great thought of the journey to come.
A true South African meaning of freedom encompasses freedom from poverty, unemployment, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. As a country, these struggles are still rife and still cause pain for those living under these circumstances.
Our Constitution begins with the words “We, the People”. These words are a reminder that what we hope to achieve as a country should always be founded on the will of the people, with the main priority being to establish a just system dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens. There has never been a better time than the time of Covid-19 to make real what we have always known; that we are still not free as a people in South Africa. We still have a glaringly unequal society with people not having the benefit of basic sanitation and basic access to healthcare.
Some might argue that this day was a means to an end in that, after all the suffering and comradeship and a true will as a people to end apartheid and end an unequal society, the struggle for freedom still continues. Twenty-seven years into our democracy, we are still faced with lack of access to resources for township schools; 27 years later we are still faced with growing inequality and economic instability that further perpetuate the injustices that We, the People fought and rebelled against.
We can only hope that this year, this day serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go in order to achieve true freedom as a People. We can only hope that this year, this day serves as a reminder that in order for true freedom to exist, we all need to play our part.
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