From the editor’s desk
There are two public holidays this month – Family Day and Freedom Day. One used to be a religious holiday, the other is linked to our democratic history marking the day of our proper liberation which came on 27 April 1994.
I was living in the U.S.A. at the time and this was the first vote I participated in along with the majority of South Africans.
Standing in front of me in the queue outside San Francisco
City Hall along with a few thousand South Africans was a young woman who hailed from Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal. This was a fascinating moment, because I grew up in a small farming area called Nkwalini around 40km up river from Empangeni in the heart of Zululand.
We spoke to each other in isiZulu. It was only later that I realised the full extent of our symbolic conversation, she a black South African, me a white. Both standing to vote as citizens living outside South Africa in a foreign country.
A few months later I was back in South Africa. While this is a personal note, the national note to this day remains poignant when we remember those who fought for our freedom. Freedom Day is to be relished particularly by those who recall the days before 1994 and we must not take our freedom for granted.
27 April 1994 was the day that colonialism and oppression ended on paper with each one of us marking our votes. We must honour the memories of those who are no longer with us and who gave their lives so that we can live in a country with the world's best Constitution.The message is simple: vote.
It has been a month since the Independent Electoral Commission's Voter Registration weekend where South Africans had the opportunity to check whether their data was correctly captured on the voter's roll and also register to vote. In recent years the percentage of people voting has dropped slightly.This is disappointing.
The turnout of registered voters in the 2014 elections was 73 percent which was a four percent decline on the last two elections' turnouts of 77 percent.The right to vote is taken for granted perhaps by some who are now living in an era where it has always seemed to have been part of our democratic landscape. It is still an emotional experience even after over a quarter of a century to stand with my fellow citizens and to mark my cross where I see fit.
While we feel mentally emancipated, we are not free of poverty, unemployment, bigotry, racism and economic oppression. It is only through a simple yet powerful right that we continue the process that our struggle heroes waited so long to experience.