What Freedom Day means to me

2012-05-07 07:55

I’m still surprised at people who pooh-pooh Freedom Day.

I understand the cynicism and some disillusionment at where we are now, but who said the struggle is over?

It is possibly the most valuable day in my calendar.

I have been reflecting on where I was on this day 18 years ago.

I was working very hard, but managed to take time out to vote.

“Well, I did it with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I have touched freedom,” is my journal entry that day.

I knew where my situation in life was back then.

I had been applying for work at South African corporates and I had just about given up. My self-esteem was rather low. It was hard to decide what to do.

My studies seemed useless because wherever I went, I was asked for experience, which was rather limited by the R650-a-month “salary” I was earning.

It was sufficient at that time, but while I did not need money, I really needed to feel relevant, valued.

I still have a pack of letters from the major companies that rejected me. I remember PricewaterhouseCoopers said to my face that I was not smart enough.

Anglo American, Allied Bank, Trust Bank! A year later, I was working for all of them and writing a case study a few years later on their merger.

So what this day means to me is freedom from irrelevance, freedom from being optionless.

One of my favourite statements is: “The quality of your choices depends on the quality of your options.” The options were very limited then.

What this day means to me is victory against discrimination. I don’t need to create a long list.

All I know is today I can live where I want, associate with whoever I like, travel whenever I want, work whenever and wherever I choose, and never have to worry about being arrested for it.

That freedom to choose I value more than anything.

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