Freedom is no longer coming. It’s here. Sunday marks the milestone of democratic freedom in this country. Looking back at the last two decades as we approach the fifth election (my second), I am reminded of the heroes that fought for us to have the reward of freedom. The sacrifices made by those before us so that today I can travel Metro Plus, use the same public toilet as a white person. And if I choose to I can date someone of darker skin than I. You see, I am one of those that would fail the pencil test, even with the introduction of the GHD. When I watch videos taken from Apartheid, I cannot believe that THAT was our country.
We are blessed to know Madiba and the type of leader that he was. He is world-renowned for his servant-style leadership. This allows us to know what to expect from our leaders and where they are failing greatly. South Africa has had a great leader, followed by a good one. But 20 years into democracy and some politicians have forgotten who they serve. They don’t seem to remember that they work for us. Today we have armchair-politicians who work only at the brink of an election. Former MPs are even given the luxury of free air flights for 10 years after retirement. Hundreds of rands are budgeted for infrastructure, education and the like but many millions get stolen. These (not all) politicians seem to forget that it is an honour to serve in those positions.
While we have made great steps in our collective walk of freedom, we are still miles away from achieving the South Africa that Mandela referred to in a number of his speeches, including his inauguration speech. A South Africa that we all can be proud of. Not just the select few. We are all intimately attached to this country.
We must never dishonour our freedom
I therefore am grateful for the right to dignity, free education, housing and sanitation. But I cannot be satisfied until these dreams don’t merely look pretty on a piece of paper but are enforced in reality.
We cannot be satisfied until gender violence, racial discrimination, corruption, HIV and AIDS, police brutality, and adverse poverty are buried as far down as Apartheid ideals.
Public hospitals and clinics are fully stocked and no one in need gets turned away. Schools are safe, textbooks are delivered on time and we don’t hear of six year old boys losing their lives because they got stuck in school toilets.
South Africa has seen the most protests in recent years than ever before. President Jacob Zuma said it was because 95 percent of people’s expectations are raised. But how can this be so when it’s our right so why should we have to fight for it?
Today, I also reflect on the constitution and the electoral system – which is said to be one of the best in the world. South Africa has a better story to tell, especially after its disastorous beginnings. We have made great strides in infrustructure, development and health. Where there were no clinics, there are now and more people have access to education. Freedom of expression, religious practice and media are where South Africa has made the greatest progress.
Yes, all countries have challenges and this one is no exception. The time has come for us to elect leaders that can take us into the new chapter of our democracy. Reflecting on all that’s gone wrong in the country I am reminded of Martin Luther King’s speech where he said that despite all the issues facing him and his country, he still has a dream.We continue to move forward knowing that the same injustices that existed pre-1994 are over .
As I refect on this country post-Apartheid, I am proud because I am African. And today it feels good.
A toast to 20 years of freedom – here’s to the next chapter.
Images: Live photographer Masixole Feni, Wikipeadia,overcoming Apartheid, Timeslive, SABC, offivereports.com