SA reflects on Freedom Day

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pretoria- South Africans from all walks of life gathered today at the Union Buildings, 18 years after the first democratic elections were held in South Africa, to reflect on what Freedom Day means to them and what it should mean for future generations.

"Freedom Day is a happy day," said 62-year-old Thoko Mposula of Vosloorus. "Today I can walk the streets knowing that pass laws don't exist anymore. Life was hard back then," she said, recalling the years of apartheid."

The main Freedom Day celebrations were addressed by President Jacob Zuma on Friday.

Another 62-year-old, Grace Morwane, added that it was important to teach the youth about the struggle for freedom.

"That is why I brought my daughter with. We want the youth to grow up knowing their history," she said. Morwane brought her 11-year-old daughter Kamogelo with her on the bus ride to the celebrations.

Mposula chipped in to say that it was "painful" for the elderly to see that most young people did not know the country's history.

The country's first democratic elections were held in the country on 27 April 1994.

"This day makes us realise that our freedom must be celebrated. As the youth we must know our history," 16-year-old Lerato Tladi said.

In his address Zuma urged South Africans to make the country a success. "As South Africans, we celebrate this significant day in order to ensure that the present does not erase the past, and in order to protect the future," he said.

Arts and Culture Minister, Paul Mashatile, said the day was about honouring the dawn of freedom. He added that freedom required permanent vigilance.

New Malawian President, Joyce Banda, also joined the celebrations alongside Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng among others when she arrived at the Union Buildings.

She was accompanied by her husband and other officials. Banda is in South Africa on her first official visit following her inauguration as President earlier this month. This follows the death of her predecessor, President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The second female president on the African continent will hold discussions with Zuma on issues of mutual interest.

Various political party leaders also attended the celebrations. Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota said it is important to pay tribute to those who paid with their lives for South Africa's Freedom while the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) said South Africans should celebrate the day.

The day was marked with performances by various artists like Ladies in Jazz. Earlier on, a wreath laying ceremony was held at Freedom Park after which the public at the Union Buildings was treated to a military band performance and a cultural parade among other entertainment items.

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