Today, South Africa celebrates Freedom Day to commemorate the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
We remember the words of some of the country’s struggle heroes, made during the liberation struggle, at independence and post independence. The quotes speak to the vision and aspirations of its people, and thoughts at the prevailing challenges facing the country.
1. “Mr President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is now free.” The late former President Nelson Mandela speaking at the gravesite of first President-General of the ANC John Langalibalele Dube after casting his vote in the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
2. “As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.” Nelson Mandela.
3. “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.” Nelson Mandela
4. “We were expected to destroy one another and ourselves collectively in the worst racial conflagration. Instead, we as a people chose the path of negotiation, compromise and peaceful settlement. Instead of hatred and revenge we chose reconciliation and nation-building.” Nelson Mandela.
5. “We are fighting for our land and that land is still in the hands of the oppressor. In other words the struggle can’t stop until we attain our goal.” Anti-apartheid activist and former Pan Africanist Congress President Clarence Makwetu.
“The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not take n the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road.” Nelson Mandela.
6. “Beside the sense of a common historical fate that we share with the other countries of Afrika, it is imperative, for purely practical reasons that the whole of Afrika be united into a single unit, centrally controlled. Only in that way can we solve the immense problems that face the continent people”. Pan Africanist Congress founder Robert Sobukwe, Inaugural Speech, April 1959.
7. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care, it is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market. As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist.” South African Communist Party secretary-general, Chris Hani.
8. “The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves.” Stephen (Steve) Bantu Biko. Letter to SRC Presidents, I Write What I Like, 1978.
9. “The fight for freedom must go on until it is won; until our country is free and happy and peaceful as part of the community of man, we cannot rest.” Oliver Reginald Tambo, Anti-apartheid activist and former ANC President.
10. “I am convinced that it would be treacherous to hide our heads in the sand and behave as though we remain on course in terms of the achievement of our shared and various national objectives.” Former President Thabo Mbeki, 2012.
Sources: PAC.org.za, SA historyonline and Nelson Mandela Foundation