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Road to freedom still long and hard, say Capetonians

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By Loushe Jordaan

For South Africa, Freedom Day on 27 April marks the liberation of the country and its people from a long period of colonialism, white minority rule and Apartheid. But 24 years post democracy, the wounds of apartheid are still raw, as South Africa grapples with many socio-economic challenges such as crime, racism, poverty and inequality. Increased debate around land reform and racism in South Africa has raised questions about South Africa’s path to freedom. Do we have any to celebrate on Freedom Day today?

As South Africans take stock on the progress made in the country over past 24 years, we asked ordinary Capetonians if their right to freedom and Freedom Day holds any real meaning in the current political and social context.

A resident from Southfield says although she was as young as 2 years old on election day in 1994, Freedom Day is significant as South Africans were seen as human beings with an equal opportunity to change their circumstances.

“Democracy really gave us social agency. Yes we have a long way to go before complete social and economic transformation, but at least we have rights and freedoms under the Constitution to create opportunities,” says Bailey Williams.

But with freedom comes huge responsibility, says one Capetonian. He says that just because one is free to do certain things, one should still be able to be held accountable for the decisions you make.
“As free as I am, I should still know that there are certain limitations. I am free but I don’t have the freedom to hurt or oppress others,” adds Nishaad Filander.

‘Freedom’ is a very broad term that many don’t fully understand or interpret correctly. Many feel that freedom is simply speaking your mind, expressing yourself and doing what you are told you cannot do.

One Ocean View resident says the meaning of freedom in this day and age has been taken too far.

“People feel it acceptable to say and do as they please and they justify this by claiming that they can act a certain way because their forefathers fought for their freedom,” says Aneesa Jassiem.

“Freedom does mean having the power to say and think what you may, it means that you no longer have to be a prisoner of your thoughts, but that does not give you the right to bully people, or bring harm to their character.”

Amid increased debate over the right of freedom of expression, particularly in the sphere of social media, many young people feel they are being curtailed.

Another lady says that being free means that you can have equal access to education and emancipate yourself. She says that freedom means living a life without restrictions.

“Freedom means being able to voice your opinion without fear of being victimized,” adds Reyghana Samuels.

While the economic and social opportunities that existed for the white minority pre-1994 is now accessible to people of all races, some people still feel that not much has changed since then. This Capetonian believes the concept of freedom is too idealistic in a country that has been ravaged by decades of violent oppression and subjugation. He says the gap between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have nots’ is simply too vast.

“As a black man, I have limited freedom. If a black man from a rural area calls the police, they would take their time to respond, that is if they even respond. But if someone from Constantia calls about noise pollution, the police arrives before you can even put the phone down,” says Isaac Bomkazi.

A Manenberg resident Nazli Sterrus says that she refuse to celebrate Freedom day, questioning the concept of freedom when children are trapped in their homes due to gang violence and most families are trapped in the cycle of poverty.

“I can’t celebrate freedom because there is still unresolved issues post 1994, such as unbearable living conditions, crime and racism,” she stated. VOC


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