Born frees celebrate 21 years of democracy

2015-04-27 17:48
(Naledi Shange, News24)

(Naledi Shange, News24)

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Pretoria - Hundreds of young people were among the masses who came to the Union Buildings to celebrate Freedom Day on Monday.

News24 spoke to some of the youngsters who explained what Freedom Day means to them.

Leah Khumalo, 22, who travelled from Johannesburg for the festivities said she did not think much about Freedom Day.

"Freedom day particularly I don't think much of it really. Freedom on the other hand I value a lot," she said.

She was just a baby when black South Africans went to the polls for their first ever democratic elections on April 27, 1994.

"Even though I was not there... the mere fact that I am able to stand here today and I am able to mingle with a lot of races and make friends from different entities of life, I think that is a privilege on its own," she said.

"I celebrate freedom daily. I live it every day. It's my lifestyle so I value it a lot."

President Jacob Zuma delivered an address at the Union Buildings where he called for unity among Africans.

He told the crowd there was no excuse for the recent xenophobic attacks which left at least seven people dead.

The African Union intended to hold a dialogue on the issue and matters that needed to be discussed included the reason as to why so many foreign nationals flocked to South Africa's borders, he said. 

Odelia Olifant, 21, said she had expected more action and less talk from Zuma. 

"He should be doing something about the xenophobia but he is not," she said as she sat under an umbrella with her friend. 

The green lawn of the Union Buildings was filled with thousands of people, many of whom had been ferried to the capital city by bus.

Many of the adults present at the event wore yellow African National Congress T-shirts which bore a pictures of President Jacob Zuma, while others had pictures of late former president Nelson Mandela. Some of the older women were dressed in ANC Women's League green and black attire.

Many of those who were in the marquee where Zuma delivered his address carried large South African flags and waved them around as they sang struggle songs.  

Hundreds of children were also present and several jumping castles lined one side of the Union Buildings for the children's entertainment.

One man told News24 that he hoped the youth had heard Zuma's message. 

"We were just discussing here whether the young people who sat through the presidents speech were able to identify opportunities or whether they came for the dance and concert," said Buti Matlhako, who stood next to his friend who was dressed in an ANC T-shirt and cap. 

Asked whether he felt the day was being suitably commemorated Matlhako said: "It is Freedom Day, it needs to be celebrated. I don't think it should all be dance and celebration but there should be a moment to reflect on the actualities of what happened before we got to where we are today," he said. 

A hawker who was selling ANC hats and caps said he hoped that government's promises would one day be fulfilled. 

"I love ANC. I vote but this is the job I do," he said, asking a News24 journalist to support his business. 

Following President Jacob Zuma's address, a DJ took the stand and blasted popular house tunes for the crowds.

The youngsters screamed and danced both inside and outside the marquee while some of the elderly people lay on the grass outside. Some of the elderly crowd began making their way back to the buses but it seemed the celebrations were just starting off for the younger crowd as many awaited the performance of popular Hip Hop artist, Casper Nyovest.

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