Are you free? Sidikiwe! Vukani!
It is particularly uplifting to see how the public is debating these coming elections. Even my 19-yr old son - whose main / only obsessions are listening to deep house music, pumping iron, chasing girls, playing XBox and drinking beer - has been expressing political opinions! On facebook nogal!
I think that the public engagement and diverse sentiment compares favourably with what we experienced pre-1994. That was the time when, regardless of your age, you HAD to have a political opinion and we were all defenders, soldiers or comrades. We might not have known terribly much about political ideologies; campaigning, debating or governing, but we made our voices herd! (SIC intended) We chanted and danced. We bombed and burnt. We cried and cheered. We lived because others died for us.
And in the end we were victorious! We went into this war on atrocious apartheid without any real battle plan or training. The SA'n "opposition" was fractious and disjointed. We joined "movements" which claimed to have differing ideologies, but we were all united in one thing.
In his inaugural speech, The Right Honourable Departed Nelson Mandela said “Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud. Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all. … That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression..
As disorganised as we were as a Nation, we were an army that fort for – and attained – we succeeded in our pursuit of FREEDOM.
(I won't lie but I was very tempted to say Happyness. Now that I think about it, perhaps that was what the umm "Honourable" president Jacob Zuma and his loyalists actually thought they were fighting for... Who was it that said “I did not join the struggle to be poor.” ? .. Oh yes! ANC national spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama in November 2004. If a 256 million rands "gifted" home doesn't give them "Happyness", nothing will!)
Anyway, I digress. Now where was I? ... Oh yes! "FREEDOM". The Oxford dictionary has this to say about freedom "The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. As in we do have some freedom of choice, or he talked of revoking some of the freedoms"
(How much is "some" freedom/s? Is it like "OK Celeste, you can only have SOME freedom, when you're on the toilet, at home NOT at your work!. Eer but we control some of your freedom in your home! Smoke outside! Don't spank your children! Don't use electricity but you must pay for the izinyoka that steals from the grid!
And your are free to work anywhere but because you are coloured you must stay rather stay anywhere else but in the Western Cape, because there is an over-concentration of coloured in the WC, so you coloureds must spread out over the country. But the EC is not for you! It's better if you go to GP. . . WAIT, No! Mmusi is there! Go to KZN. . NO! wait, er . . er. .
Well you know what, go anywhere else because you are free! Yes! The Ancestors - er . . you know mos . . "our" ancestors fought for this freedom. . . Not yours. You're coloured mos. You don't have ancestors. . who died . . fighting for freedom.
We also only have "some" freedom in our cars, places of worship, etc.)
Unhappy with this definition, I googled it again and found this definition on dictionary.com -
“The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint. Enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery. Those who are free enjoy personal liberty, are characterised by, or possessing civil and political liberties that are, as a rule, constitutionally guaranteed by representative government. Personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.”
This definition resonates with me because I think that this is what the SA’n Constitution guarantees.
“We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to-
· Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
· Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
· Improve the qualiiy of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
· Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightfill place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso. God seen Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa. Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika”.
It may seem that I have digressed again, but I actually have a point. (My husband may not agree, but I swear I do.)
You see, when I started this article I thought it was going to be about our interest in and activity surrounding the May 7 elections. It has turned out differently. Instead of it being the “it is your constitutional right and privilege to vote otherwise you have no right to complain.” kind of piece.
I don’t want to only look as far as May 7. Nor do I want to look at the past 20 years (the ANC can better tell their Good Story better than anyone can anyway!) No I want to understand if there are different understandings and definitions of “freedom”.
Clearly there is…
** Have something on your mind about this year's elections? Write to us by submitting your content here.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.