South Africans are observing ‘‘Freedom Day’‘ a statutory holiday in the country. On this day 23 years ago, South Africans voted in their first post-apartheid elections.
The day is set aside to celebrate the country’s political and electoral freedom after years of violent opposition to white minority rule – referred to as apartheid.
The April 27, 1994 vote was the first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age of over 18 from any race group, including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa were allowed to vote. Under the apartheid system, non-whites had only limited rights to vote.
... we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.
On the 27 April '94, SA held its first democratic elections which gave birth to freedom & our constitutional democracy. #FreedomDay— South African Gov (@GovernmentZA) April 27, 2017
The government announced that the theme for today’s event is “The year of OR Tambo: Together deepening democracy & building safer & crime-free communities,” with the commemorative event slated for uMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal province.
On the first commemoration of the holiday, President Nelson Mandela addressed Parliament and made the following pronouncement:
‘‘As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the swelling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us.
‘‘And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.’‘
Photo credit: Luke Collimore via Nelson Mandela Foundation