Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Freedom Day, South Africa

What crazy things would the Apartheid government have done to the freedom of the internet had it existed back then?

Who gives a damn!

Ha! Today they aren’t around, and the power & freedom of the internet is.

Today you tweet, blog, email, facebook and youtube your political thoughts without fear from deceptive prosecution.

Today you are friends with who you are friends with because of who the friend is, not because of what criteria the government dictates.

Today a politician goes bos in tyrannical ways and your fellow citizens make a catchy house remix from his rant.

This weekend two people showed their love & commitment to each other by getting married… and they were homosexual, of mixed cultures, or of any other once-forbidden criteria.

You turned on the tv and were not presented with the same advert in various races.

Children learnt that their language of Pedi is as valued as any of the other ten official languages in a free country.

You got onto your feet and walked where you wanted to.

You spoke to who you wanted to.

You applied for any job you wanted.

And you fought for that job with all other South Africans who also dreamed of that job.

You bought booze/ boerewors/ postage stamps from the same counter as every other South African.

Your rights as a homeless person were as respected as the rich folk with a mansion in Sandhurst. And you voted like any other citizen.

You shagged a person you were attracted to. Who once was forbidden to your group.

You danced with a person you found fun & crazy. Who once was forbidden to your group.

More than 20 of you congregated in a room.

No one slipped on some soap in a prison cell.

Today you read a South African novel that wasn’t an analogy for political racist overpowering.

Today corruption was exposed. And addressed.

A politician of the leading party apologised to his people for being arrested because it was found he still had too much alcohol in his bloodstream.

Today sports teams recalled their international game played over the weekend.

A journalist wrote a scathing attack on something the government did. And someone in the audience wrote something more scathing in response. The secret police were not called out.

Today a community took to the streets in protest that their services were not arriving. They shouted their voice. They claimed their space. And freely demanded their rights.

Today I listened to a song in Afrikaans, a song in Sotho, a song in English from another continent. I wore clothes designed by a South African-educated person. And wore jewellery given to me by a Zimbabwean also seeking his welfare in the “America of Africa”.

You bought a car that you worked for and your job paid you well enough for.

A school textbook was written and none of the lines were blacked out.

And people complained. Complained like they had forgotten what a gift ‘Freedom’ is. Complained like they have been free for so long that their comfort might make them forget. Lucky them.

Lucky us.

Happy Freedom Day, South Africa.

5 comments:

Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Champagne Heathen said...

Rose,
I walked many places in Jo'burg. Particularly in the Rosebank area. Even so late after dark, it was nearly dawn. I have mates who stroll all over Braamfontein & around their apartments in downtown Jozi.

And I drove with my car windows down. I befriended people at robots (traffic lights). I was part of a community in Jo'burg...because I chose to be.

I was not stupid & unaware. But I also chose to be free from self-induced fear.

Freedom is choice. You were awarded 1000s. You chose to leave, I would assume.

Who did you have that braai with? Lucky you for being allowed to congregate with people to host a braai. Lucky you for being allowed to get an education that afforded you a good enough job... and that you were allowed a good enough job... to purchase a house, with security systems. Lucky you for being allowed to have the freedom of movement (and not a dompas) to choose where you wanted to live.

44 million people celebrate today. I am sorry that you are no longer one of them. Let us celebrate, thanks.

Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Champagne Heathen said...

Rose. Oi.

So you are definitely here to pick a fight? To slander any attempt another South African might make to celebrate their country? Did you chance upon my blog post or troll it out with some perverse determination to say “NO!” to any Freedom Day postings?

It would be na├»ve to think that such crimes did not happen before 1994. And it would be uncompassionate to say those are not horrendous acts that you list, which do need to be constructively fought against. My emphasis is on the word “constructive” and not on the word “fought”.

But how these acts are related to Freedom Day does get a bit lost on me.

I don’t think either you or I could go about assuming how Lucky Dube’s family recognises this day. Particularly because I am quite confused on his relevant unique connection to this day.

As for people living in shacks & poverty, and the relevance of listing off violent crimes, well, I am going to assume the best here and believe that the point you are attempting to make is, that South Africa has not yet achieved complete freedom. That Freedom Day needs to not only be celebrated but used as a day of reflection of how (all) SA citizens are still not completely enjoying all freedoms we have right to.

And to that, I say a big Fair Enough & Good Point.

We can use 27 April to recognise how far we still need to go as well as recognise how far we have come. In a constructive way. Dare I even say, in a loving way.

But, the significance of 27 April 1994 was that the space to start realising these freedoms opened up.

Finally, the South African population was politically on equal footing. Not yet socially & economically, but systems were put in place to address those freedoms & rights, and occasionally, these need to be re-addressed & amended. And no, we definitely cannot be passive & assume freedoms should just “be” in place, but we must be active in ensuring freedoms we have & freedoms we have a right to.

In any country and political system, the citizens need to have the power & determination to continue to pursue their freedom. All citizens. Against all of those in authority – because there rarely is benevolent human authority. South African citizens achieved this universal power to pursue their freedom & have say over political authority in the early 1990s & this is signified by 27 April 1994.

I am going to assume that your point is not as bland, “uncompassionate”, and “white supremist” as that we should mourn the change that is signified by 27 April 1994. That we possibly lost a “better” political system. Because if it is that, please, I ask you, leave my blog and go fight it out aimlessly on some news site’s comments section. I cannot handle the illogical & self-centred arguments from that type of point. And I am now actively closing my ears to them rather than waste energy & emotion on intellectually engaging with them.

Champagne Heathen said...

If it is the former point, then here is an article you might find interesting that backs your point:

http://www.mg.co.za/printformat/single/2010-04-26-inequality-mocks-our-struggle-to-build-a-free-society

I have my reservations about MASSIVE Trade Unions (well, maybe just one particular massive trade union)...again its that point about my doubts of the benevolence of people with too much authority.

But COSATU seemed to be calling for "workers" to reflect on what freedoms have yet to be achieved.