Freedom Day celebration draws thousands to UB

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pretoria - Thousands of people, young and old, black and white have braved the scorching heat in the lawn area at the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, for the annual commemoration of Freedom Day.

The celebration this year is being held under the theme, “South Africa – A Better Place to live in”.

This year’s Freedom Day marks 20 years of Freedom and Democracy celebrations. On this day in 1994, South Africans of all races had cast their votes in the first ever democratic election, giving birth to the country’s freedom and constitutional democracy.

President Jacob Zuma, who arrived just after 10am for the official ceremony, sat in a white tent next to Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile, Minister in the Presidency's Collins Chabane  Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu.

Representatives from other political parties and celebrities are also present at the event, which will see a President Zuma addressing the nation.

Russel Gumede from Mamelodi told SAnews that the country has come a long way since 1994.

“The last twenty years we have united in our common goal of working towards a better life and there is still so much more to be done. But first we have to fight corruption and promote service delivery together.”

While Papi Mohale from Midrand said: “Freedom to me means to be able to access good education, to be able to live in a descent home, to be able to eat healthy and nutritious food, to have access to proper health facilities and opportunity to employment.

“It means I could walk at all hours of the day and night without the fear of getting attacked. It means women are treated with respect and dignity. Freedom to me is being able to practise your religion without being discriminated. Our forefathers fought tooth and nail so that one day we could be able to access such freedom,” he said, adding that however there was still much more to be done.

For Debbie Gassner, the day should be used to reflect and renew the commitment and responsibility that was fought so hard for years ago.

Gumede, Mohale and Gassner were among the thousands who witnessed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) parade as they marched onto the stage to provide the guard of honour for the state President Zuma.

The National Anthem and the 21 round gun salute was fired, while two Oryx helicopters performed the fly –past with two flags, the National Flag and the SANDF flag.

In the crowds young and old danced the Freedom Dance - which is inspired by various high points in the past twenty years and includes the dance moves of the iconic late former President Nelson Mandela as well as encompassing his raised fist after his release, “thobela” dance moves and others.

As part of the celebrations - a special song played - a re-work of the Peace Song penned by the legendary Sello Chicco Twala and accompanied by younger artists - which was commissioned by the Department of Arts and Culture.

According to the department, the refrain of the song “South Africa, we love you, our beautiful land” is as relevant and inspiring today as it was two decades ago.

Meanwhile later on, President Zuma will hand over national orders to numerous South African citizens and foreign nationals at an event to be held nearby the Sefako Makgatho Presidential guest house. -


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