Every 27th April marks the freedom and liberation day in the beautiful of South Africa. I want to use this moment to salute all those freedom fighters who mustered bravery to wrestle with blood and iron against a cruel and inhuman system called apartheid which gave birth to the freedom day. This day was a redefining moment in South Africa and Africa as a whole. Freedom Day deserves the place in human history and must be told and retold to make sure never again must any group of human beings suffer from such a heinous and gruesome system of governance. It must also be the period where sober reflection takes place to take stock of this period as a call for honest introspection to assess the aftermath of 1994 to ascertain the way forward.
On this day, two periods and generations come together each with their own relevance and progress report, pre-1994 and post-1994. Those who fought have a different memory and sense of responsibility with which to commemorate such a day but what about post 1994 or 1990? What do these 23 - 27 years mean to this age bracket or generation? What are they really celebrating and with what kind of passion and will? Whatever freedom day was fought for, have its prospects as well as hopes, been achieved? Who can assess this and give honest feedback?
Can it be said by the pre-1994 generation who suffered and served incarceration at Robben Island and other places for decades that their sacrifices have been worthwhile looking at the current conditions in the country? Their hopes, desires and aspirations were for a South Africa that is people (citizen) centered and focused. Their quest was also to promote a practical sense of equality and access to the prospects of South Africa's resources. But one may ask has all this been a charade? Can such a day be used to sit around the table for honest, dispassionate and needful discussion to ascertain if the hope they nurtured and for which many died has seen fulfilment?
The youth of today, i.e. the post 1994 generation, need an orientation that will instil a certain degree of hope that can be exhibited in their actions and inactions. They must experience our heroes and legends living the dreams and hopes which they fought and died for. This will serve as a motivating factor to sacrifice and die for something worthy. The fundamental motivation that birthed Freedom Day was to uproot ugly apartheid and restore humanity and dignity to South African citizens and to liberate them from a cruel system.
Legends like O.R. Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, Nelson Madiba, Fr. Michael Lapsley, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Mandela, and Thabo Mbeki amongst others sacrificed everything of theirs for a new South Africa that they dreamt of together with their compatriots. They don't have the same physical energy except the wisdom to make new forms of apartheid that need to be uprooted too. Freedom Day must be used as a point where living legends hand over the baton to the youth to fight and contend with all the forms of challenges that hinder economic independence which is actually the second phase that freedom day stands for.
What exactly does Freedom Day mean to the post 1994 generation? In reality they are roughly 23-27 years old, university graduates finding their feet in stable jobs. What is the motivation to live for this generation? What dues are they paying to qualify referencing as legends of post 1994 in the next 60 years? If pre-1994 fought and died for human rights, dignity and political independence what will the post 1994 generation stand for? If pre-1994 had a reasonable excuse to have failed, what will the excuse be for the post 1994 generation to explain to their offspring why they too, have failed?
For this generation to win the battle they must forge synergies with fellow African nations so that we can run at the speed of light for the total economic empowerment and development of Africa.
The next phase of the struggle to really deepen the sense of feeling, passion and meaning to Freedom Day is economic freedom, equality and independence backed by policies and programs that are evidenced in development and democracy. Just as the pre-1994 generation got support from African nations to fight against apartheid, for this generation to win the battle they must forge synergies with fellow African nations so that we can run at the speed of light for the total economic empowerment and development of Africa.
Apartheid was fought with blood and iron but economic independence in this generation is the battle of minds and prudent usage of information gathered with empirical evidence. Abject poverty, streetism, inequality, all forms of abuse as well as corruption must be fought with all energies using the brain. We must be seen using technology, innovations and inventions to solve our socio-cultural and econo-politico challenges. The Apartheid we face today is not a political system but an economic one. When this type of independence is won, it will bring freedom day into a full cycle where both generations would have paid their dues to complete the cycle.
Freedom Day can be a catalyst for growth and development when deliberate and conscious efforts are made to instil and foster patriotism and nationalism among citizens, especially the youth. There is nothing the youth of today are willing to die for. This is the crux of the economic apartheid, and it must be tackled head on with programs, sensitisation and training of the minds to take up the mantle and run the race.
The pre-1994 generation legends alive are not among us by accident, they must be our insurance to tackle economic apartheid and win as they did. By this, we will be building the hope of a South Africa they lost their lives and freedom to.
Viva South Africa!
Viva Economic Independence!
Viva Freedoms Day!