May Freedom Charter remain a guiding light
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. The people shall govern. The people shall share. The doors of learning and culture shall be opened. All shall have equal rights.
These were some of the slogans that inspired generations of South Africans to fight for a free nation.
But these were not mere slogans. They were drawn from the Freedom Charter, that iconic document whose 60th anniversary was celebrated this week.
The charter drew its inspiration from other documents that sparked revolutions and struggles for liberty and equality in previous eras.
The charter is special because it was not dictated by leaders and intellectuals but was born of a ground-up process. In the months preceding the June 1955 Congress of the People in Kliptown, Soweto, volunteers of the ANC and allied organisations fanned the country to seek the input of ordinary people.
The result was a document that reflected the aspirations of the people and spoke of the dream South Africa that they wanted to live in.
Yes, it was idealistic, but that is what great visions are about. They speak of a perfect society and inspire citizens to reach for it, bit by bit.
The practicality of implementation may be overtaken by time, but the ideal is timeless.
Sixty years after that Kliptown gathering, we live in a country that was freed by a people who were inspired by the ideals of the Freedom Charter. That country is governed by a Constitution based on the values of the charter.
It is a credit to the charter that political parties across the ideological spectrum are today fighting over the true custodianship of its values. This shows that it remains our lodestar. May it remain thus, even in the midst of crises and despondency.