Today marks 25 years since South Africa’s first democratic elections – 27 April commemorates the day in 1994 when more than 19-million people turned out to cast their vote in the historic poll.
Arguably the most important day in the history of our country, Freedom Day celebrates the end of the apartheid regime and the movement towards a freely elected government.
A quarter of a century on, we wanted to get a sense of what Freedom Day meant to some of our Flowstars. We want to know if they still celebrate the day, and get a sense of the things they’d like to see improve in the next 25 years.
Asked what she does to celebrate Freedom Day, Ayanda Siswana of the Flow PR team says: “I live in Soweto just a few steps from Vilakazi Street, so I try to make a point to go there with my family, especially my niece and nephews, and engage with the area and any activities that might be happening there.”
Admin team member Dorris Makuwa believes nobody should forget Freedom Day. “It’s the day I got freedom in South Africa. I usually have a braai with my family and friends, celebrate the day and have a dance. You know I like to dance,” says Dorris as she dances around the office with a smile on her face.
“Freedom Day is important because it is part of the history of our country,” says Khanyi Shabalala from the admin team. “Everyone needs to learn about what happened in our past. If I could change anything in South Africa, I would like to get rid of poverty. I don’t know how, but I would change it.”
Mbali Ntuli, an assistant in our PR department, describes herself as “a freedom baby” – she was born in 1994 and therefore always thinks about Freedom Day. “About four years ago, I took part in the Walk the Talk with 702 event on Freedom Day. That year, it was a special occasion and we actually walked 21km to celebrate the 21 years that had passed since our first Freedom day. I walked with a friend, my parents and my sister (who is young, so did the 5km).”
Mbali says if she could change one thing about South Africa, she would give everyone free education. “I also hope that the country could be in a better financial situation in the future.”
Admin team stalwart Maria Foundanellas is from a Greek family, but grew up in South Africa. She loves living in this country, but has some thoughts on what she’d like to see in the future.
“It’s a great day. It’s good to celebrate it. I don’t do anything specific to celebrate, but I’m glad that it is recognised,” she says.
“But I would change the crime in South Africa. I don’t feel safe in my home. I would pay more taxes if I had to, or even do community service, if it meant we could get rid of the crime”.
“The young people of South Africa are hungry to learn and more driven than ever. They want to improve their lives and the country. I love South Africa and I hope to see more positive change,” Maria adds.
Vincent Mudimba, who regularly supplies Flow team members with food and snacks, believes Freedom Day is an important holiday, “because we are a free country now”. He believes celebrating the day is a good reminder of the struggle that led to the end of apartheid. “Last year, I celebrated Freedom Day with my friends – we played snooker and enjoyed being together.
“I see a lot of people who are without work, especially in the Johannesburg CBD where I live, so I hope for more job creation throughout the country,” he says.
Freedom Day is important to acknowledge “the history of South Africa and how far we’ve come”, says Lynzi Herbst, a relative newcomer to the Flow admin team.
“A lot of people still feel like they are recovering from our country’s past. South Africa has a lot of potential. I think we need leaders who care about the country and its people,” she says.
“I feel like the citizens of the country are often forgotten and the focus is wrong. People are too focused on the economic state and not on the people and the issues they face. Institutionalised racism still exists today, and that’s why Freedom Day is still important. It’s a day to show how far the country has come, but how far it still has to go in the future.”
Here’s wishing everyone a happy Freedom Day from all of us at Flow Communications!