The 27th of April marks Freedom Day in South Africa. At present, as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, South Africa will celebrate Freedom Day, quite ironically, in a nationwide lockdown. Despite the lockdown, which is due to lessen just a few days after Freedom Day on May the 1st, South Africa will still celebrate Freedom Day and pay respect to the national holiday’s history.
Do you know why we celebrate Freedom Day in South Africa?
Freedom Day is a day of respect and commemoration. Celebrated on the 27th of April each year, Freedom Day honours the anniversary of South Africa’s first non-racial election of 1994 and pays homage to the country’s liberation from Apartheid rule, where the minority exercised prejudice political power over the majority of the country.
Carry on reading to learn more.
The History of Freedom Day
Freedom Day is celebrated annually on the 27th of April in honour of the auspicious day in 1994 when the first non-racial election was held in the country. South Africa celebrates Freedom Day to mark the liberation of our country and its people from 300 years of colonialism, White minority domination, politically enforced prejudice and Apartheid.
Apartheid was officially implemented in South Africa in 1948; however, colonialism and oppression of the African majority had plagued various countries throughout the African continent since as early as the 1600s.
Under the brutal Apartheid rule, indigenous people of colour in South Africa were denied the right to vote and hence did not have a say in the political governing and running of the country. During Apartheid, the majority of South Africans were excluded from any form of political power or influence.
Freedom Day honours those who fought for our country’s liberation, and the many men and women who suffered through incarceration, bannings and torture on behalf of the oppressed during Apartheid.
The First Democratic Election of 1994
On Wednesday, 27 April 1994, the nation cast its vote in the first democratic election. For the first time, all races in the country were allowed to vote for a government of their choice. Nineteen political parties participated in the non-racial election, and 19.7 million people across the country voted.
The African National Congress (ANC) won the election with 62.65% of the vote, and the party’s frontman, the revered Nelson Mandela became the first black president of the country on the 9th of May. Contrary to fears of political violence, the election took place in a festive and celebratory atmosphere.
If you want to learn more about Nelson Mandela’s incarceration on Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 year-long sentence, read more about our Robben Island Museum Tour.
Walk in the Footsteps of Nelson Mandela
Discover the inspiring story of global icon, Nobel Peace Prize winner, freedom fighter and the late former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela on a comprehensive 13-day tour that takes travellers through an inspiring journey of Tata Madiba’s life.
Learn about Madiba’s childhood, his law career, Umkhonto weSizwe, his arrest and release. Discover how one man’s unwavering dedication to a democratic South Africa led an entire nation to live in a new state of liberation.
Beginning in Johannesburg and ending in Cape Town, the Footsteps of Nelson Mandela Tour takes guests across South Africa to visit various historical museums, monuments and significant points of interest that are relevant to Mandela’s life. At each point, travellers will gain a deeper understanding of South Africa’s struggle and the inspiring story of Tata Madiba’s fight for freedom.
Freedom Day is a special day for all South Africans to reflect on the painful struggles we’ve overcome as a country, as well as to honour the students, teachers, political leaders and everyday people who lost their lives in the fight for a democratic South Africa.
If you have any questions about Freedom Day or the Footsteps of Nelson Mandela Tour, feel free to share them in the comments section below. We love receiving your feedback.
Thanks for reading!