Singing to the beat of freedom

Thursday, April 3, 2014
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria – From Alex to Gugulethu, South Africans are famous the world over for their love of music and dance - which is little wonder a national song would be chosen as the most appropriate form of expression, to mark the momentous celebration of 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy.

Arts and Culture Minister, Paul Mashatile, today announced that work has begun to compose a National Song that will form part of the country’s freedom celebrations, which will officially take place on 27 April.

“We are pleased to announce that work has begun to compose a National Song that will form part of our 20th anniversary celebrations and beyond,” said Minister Mashatile at the National Communication Partnership (NCP) Session on Thursday in Pretoria.

The session coincided with the launch of the 2014 Freedom Month celebrations. South Africans annually commemorate the first post-apartheid elections, held on 27 April 1994, where South Africans of all races got to vote.

This year, however, the celebrations assume more significance, as many in this proud nation go on a personal journey of recounting the many achievements that make the country a better place to live in than before the dawn of democracy.

With every memory that forms part of the intricate fabric that has lined the tumultuous road to freedom, South Africans have a story to tell, one that is often linked to a certain song that defined a particular time.

Whether happy or sad, South Africans have always had a special way of communing with each other and the rest of the world through song. The critical role played by music during the walk to freedom is well documented, and it still finds expression in the telling of stories from that era. These were songs that were interspersed with messages crying for freedom, notes held together by raw human emotion.

And so the musical journey has continued. Today, the nation has a different song to sing, and Minister Mashatile said this will be reflected in how South Africans will celebrate the two decades of democracy.

“One of the highlights of the 20th celebrations of freedom and democracy will be a multi-cultural carnival, which will mirror the diversity and solidarity of the African continent,” Minister Mashatile said.

Come one, come all

This year’s main historic Freedom Month celebrations will be held at the Union Buildings on 27 April, where President Jacob Zuma will deliver the message to the nation.

Special highlights during the month feature the ‘Tell your story’ campaign, where South Africans will have the opportunity to narrate and share their stories of freedom and democracy.

To mark the country’s 20th anniversary of freedom, National Days such as Mandela Day in July, will be used to reflect the road the rainbow nation has travelled since 1994.

“During this period, government will implement bold and decisive action to place our country on a path to accelerate efforts to eliminate poverty and unemployment, build sustainable livelihoods and significantly reduce inequality.

“This path is clearly articulated in the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 -- our country’s collective response to the challenges we face,” Minister Mashatile said.

Government also has a nationwide and interdepartmental programme to give South Africans a chance to be part of the celebrations.

The programme includes the work done by the Social Cohesion Advocates to promote social cohesion, nation-building and reconciliation as an integral part of building a South Africa that everyone can be proud of.

This includes the Freedom Fridays campaign, through which government encourages South Africans to display their patriotism by wearing, every Friday, anything that shows their pride in being South African.

This could be the colours of the National Flag or the jersey of their favourite national team.

“We also launched a series of 20 Years of Freedom countdown clocks at a range of public spaces, such as malls around the country and at O.R. Tambo International Airport.

“In addition to raising awareness through these countdown clocks, we are providing an opportunity for members of the public to share their comments and reflections on the milestones we have achieved thus far,” Minister Mashatile said.

A big moment for the country was the release last month of the 20 Year Review by the Presidency, which charts the country’s achievements and challenges.

A travelling exhibition titled Building the Legacy: 20 Years of Freedom, as well as the Rise and Fall of Apartheid exhibition at Museum Africa are some of the milestones to mark 20 years of democracy.

Minister Mashatile said the celebrations will also be joined by people from other nations, many of whom supported the liberation struggle and helped the nation to sustain its freedom and democracy for two decades.

“We call on all South Africans to embrace these celebrations,” he said.

National Communication Partnership

The main objectives of the NCP are to ensure that an inclusive information sharing platform is made available to all sectors of society at large, into a partnership for a shared vision of unifying the nation around celebrating the 20 Years of Freedom in South Africa.

The remainder of today’s session will take the form of a panel discussion, where a number of topics will be discussed. -

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