Songs of freedom
April 27 2012 marks 18 years since our country became a democracy. Some would say, figuratively or jokingly, that we are barely out of the troublesome stage of adolescence.
Maybe. But, it is time we took stock and reflected on what has been achieved and what remains ahead as we move towards the second decade of freedom.
Many South Africans are guilty of committing a grave error: being so engulfed in today's problems that they forget the achievements of the past two decades.
Yes, we have corruption that threatens our constitutional order, and thus our freedoms.
Yes, we have crime that is tearing apart the social fabric.
Yes, we have HIV/Aids that is decimating the population.
Yes, we have an unemployment rate that is threatening the country's stability.
Yes, we don't always have the best political leaders and bureaucrats.
But tomorrow should be the day on which we celebrate the birth of political civilisation that should give us ammunition to fight these tough challenges.
On April 27 1994 many South Africans stood in long queues to exercise their right to vote. It was phenomenal. More so because the majority of citizens rejected the party of apartheid There were many doomsayers. Some, particularly racists, said in not so many words that left to their own devices black people could not run a modern political system. It was as if apartheid was a modern system.
Once it became clear black people were good architects of the modern political system, and could actually run it without calamity, the goalpost shifted. The new accusation was that black people would not run a modern capitalist system.
Not only did the ANC government pursue relatively sound economic policies against a backdrop of the bankrupt fiscus left by the National Party, but it also managed to convince many communists to dump dangerous economics.
Yet, political freedom has not reached everyone. As some argue, one cannot eat the vote.
An impoverished person is unlikely to appreciate the freedoms he enjoys. Immediate material needs - justifiable as they are - often blind us to the fact that we have a political order whose survival depends on all citizens.
It's a pity some people need convincing to vote. We take such a right for granted at our peril. We all have a duty to defend it by holding the democratically elected government and ourselves to account, and by doing everything we can to make our country a better place.
Happy Freedom Day!