By Azwihangwisi Mufamadi
Freedom Day is the centre of celebration for any democratic country. In South Africa, Freedom Day was set aside to commemorate the first democratic elections held in 1994. With the newly elected democratic government in power Freedom Day was celebrated by many as a symbol of hope. It marked a move away from the troubled past to a brighter future. It used to be celebrated in huge gatherings where people would bring their South African flags.
Contrary to how Freedom Day was celebrated in the past, people seem to have lost interest on the significance of this day. All the hype around this day seems to have gone faster than one could imagine. Depending on which day of the week the holiday is on, people embark on different things. For some if it is on Friday it only means going to Mozambique and having fun for weekend. For many Rhodes students the day only marks another day of getting drunk, passing out and being carried back home.
It was a shame to learn that the Freedom Day advertisement that was on Sowetan and some television stations was a government product. I found myself asking why we should be reminded of Freedom Day and what the ANC government has done so far because we know these things. But before I could find an answer to my question I remembered a similar strategy used by our (desperate) SRC to counter act Paul Hjul’s attempt to get it dissolved. One can say that the advertisement shows that people are no longer interested in the freedom day activities.
How free are we? From what I understand freedom is not only replacing white faces with black faces in parliament. It is to create good living conditions amongst every citizen of South Africa. South Africa is now facing new challenges such as HIV/AIDS, crime and unemployment. Freedom Day has been celebrated many times and South Africa’s problems seem top be multiplying each time freedom day is celebrated. Let’s take crime for example, since 1994 crime in South Africa has increasingly become a threat to all. The media make it sound like a person is being stabbed or shot in every street corner which is not what the situation looks like.
The blacklisting of political commentators from the public broadcaster clearly contradicts democracy. It is not possible for one to have democracy without freedom of expression. It is anyone’s democratic right to speak out openly about whatever they think is important. Having democracy without voices of people speaking out is like having a referee without a whistle in a Soweto derby.
Maybe it is not what many people hoped for but I guess it is freedom and like everything else, terms and conditions apply.