Reflecting on Freedom Day: South Africa's journey towards equality and justice

Story: Mhlangenqaba Eric Manzi | Photo: Supplied

Opinion piece by Mhlangenqaba Eric Manzi, Office of the Speaker, Walter Sisulu Local Municipality. 


As South Africa marks 30 years since the pivotal election of 1994, it's crucial to take stock of our progress in freedom and democracy.

One of the most notable achievements since the dawn of democracy has been the dismantling of apartheid structures, replaced by transparent and consultative democratic systems. This transition, rooted in the will of the people as envisioned by the Congress of the People in 1955, has led to governance that prioritises citizen participation and inclusivity.

Addressing inequality and youth empowerment

However, amidst the celebrations, we must acknowledge the persistent challenges. Inequality, poverty, and unemployment continue to affect our nation, especially impacting our youth. I advocate for a holistic approach involving all levels of government to address these issues comprehensively, ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

It's essential to remember the sacrifices of those who fought against apartheid. Their struggles remind us of the cost of freedom and the resilience of the human spirit. From this history, we learn valuable lessons crucial for building a more just society.

While Freedom Day signifies progress, it also prompts introspection. I call attention to the overlooked narratives of our country's wars of conquest and liberation struggles, urging historians and artists to immortalize the heroes and heroines who shaped our identity.

Corruption, inequality, and social injustice pose formidable obstacles to our advancement. These issues undermine democracy and perpetuate poverty and marginalization. Vigilant civic engagement and constructive criticism are vital in safeguarding our gains and holding leaders accountable.

Looking ahead, I envision a South Africa deeply rooted in democracy and freedom, with citizens actively shaping their collective destiny. The principles of Ubuntu should guide our interactions, fostering solidarity and shared prosperity among all inhabitants of our diverse nation.

Embracing Ubuntu for a shared future

As Freedom Day goes beyond mere observance to embody a spirit of remembrance and solidarity, I emphasize the importance of Ubuntu in everyday life. By recognising our interconnectedness and sharing resources, we honour the sacrifices of the past while building a more equitable society for future generations.

I urge fellow South Africans, especially the youth, to not only benefit from freedom but also actively contribute to its preservation. Through each vote cast and every act of civic responsibility, we honour the legacy of those who fought for a free and just South Africa. 

The consequences of 346 years of colonial and apartheid rule cannot be erased within a mere three decades of our hard-won freedom. As we continue on our journey towards ultimate liberation in all facets of human existence, I envision a future where I will craft poetry that celebrates the profound essence of human dignity.