Freedom Day 2023: South Africa Celebrates 29 Years of Democracy

Freedom Day 2023: South Africa Celebrates 29 Years of Democracy

- Freedom Day is celebrated on 27 April each year in honour of South Africa’s first free democratic elections which were held in 1994

- It was the first time anyone over the age of 18 could vote for their choice of leader

- Freedom Day is used a celebration to mark the liberation of the country and its people

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South Africa has quite a few public holidays, but Freedom Day could arguably be the most important of these. Freedom Day takes place on 27 April each year in honour of the country’s first free elections which were held in 1994.

On 27 April 1994, the country embarked on a brave new chapter in its history, it was the first free and democratically inclusive election. People over 18 years of age, of all races were allowed to vote for their choice of leader for the first time.

Freedom Day 2021: South Africa Celebrates 27 Years of Democracy
Nelson mandela votes for the first time in his life, Ohlange school, Inanada, march 26 1994 (Photo by South Photography / Gallo images / Getty Images.
Source: Getty Images

Under the apartheid-era government, non-white people had little to no voting rights and were not represented in the halls of power.

Briefly News gathered that Freedom Day is a symbol used to mark the liberation of the country and its people from the evils of apartheid.

On the first commemoration of Freedom day in 1995 former president Nelson Mandela said:

“As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.”

Like most celebrations and commemorations Freedom Day has evolved over the years and these days it is celebrated in a variety of different ways.

Freedom Day 2021: South Africa Celebrates 27 Years of Democracy
Nelson Mandela campaigns during the first democratic election, Cape Town, South Africa, 1995. Photo by Susan Winters Cook / Getty Images.
Source: Getty Images

Many people choose to use the day to spend time with friends and family members. Public parks, gardens and beaches are popular spots to find families chilling and enjoying some time with each other.

Other popular ways to celebrate the day include visiting one of several museums and memorials which commemorate not just Freedom Day but the liberation for freedom.

Some of the more popular attractions include Robben Island, Soweto and the Hector Pieterson Memorial, the District Six Museum and the Apartheid Museum.

Freedom Day 2021: South Africa Celebrates 27 Years of Democracy
Nelson Mandela votes. Photo credit: Getty Images.
Source: Getty Images

These places over the visitor the opportunity to learn more about the fight for liberation and what was sacrificed in that fight. Many visitors have commented that after visiting one of these sites they have a new respect for the freedom which we now enjoy in South Africa.

South Africans took to social media to celebrate the historic day:

Duduzane Zuma believes he’s the change SA needs, plans to run for presidency as independent candidate in 2024

On this Freedom Day many South Africans aren't feeling very joyous. South Africans listed loadshedding, unemployment and high crime rates as reasons why they don't feel like celebrating. Briefly News previously reported Duduzane Zuma believes he is the change the country needs.

The former president's son announced that he will run for the head of state position in the next national elections.

Duduzane said:

"We tried to do the change route within the ANC. Clearly, it hasn’t worked. So, we will do it outside of the ANC.”

Source: Briefly News

Authors:
Maryn Blignaut avatar

Maryn Blignaut (Human-Interest HOD) Maryn Blignaut is the Human Interest manager and feature writer. She holds a BA degree in Communication Science, which she obtained from the University of South Africa in 2016. She joined the Briefly - South African News team shortly after graduating and has over six years of experience in the journalism field. Maryn passed the AFP Digital Investigation Techniques course (Google News Initiative), as well as a set of trainings for journalists by Google News Initiative. You can reach her at: maryn.blignaut@briefly.co.za

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