'I do feel free. My baby was born into a free country': South Africans speak on what makes them feel free
As South Africa celebrates Freedom Day‚ many citizens may have considered what their freedom entails.
Can freedom be boiled down to the right to speak your mind‚ or is it a more far-reaching sense of personal rights?
We spoke to young and old South Africans about the essence of freedom and asked what made people feel less free.
Munashe Kugarakuripi‚ a 17-year-old from Johannesburg‚ said he felt free because he could express himself unrestrained in 2017.
“Personally‚ for me‚ it’s just being able to go out and do the things I do‚” he said.
“It’s becoming more and more acceptable for people to be doing things you wouldn’t have been allowed to back then. For me‚ as a black child coming from a black family‚ earrings? Never been allowed.”
Now‚ Kugarakuripi wears a large black earring on each ear and produces music in his free time outside of school. However‚ he does acknowledge there is inequality in South Africa.
“One thing I do see is the higher up you are in your socioeconomic standing sort of dictates how much freedom you have to do things that most people do‚” he said.
Sunet Wagner‚ an entrepreneur from Kempton Park‚ said Freedom Day signified a major change in South Africa‚ for all people.
“It opened up avenues for me as a woman in South Africa‚” she said.
“It is and was the first step into a new direction and there’s lot of opportunities in this country.”
Two legal professionals‚ who wouldn’t give their details due to the nature of their work‚ were more pessimistic about the state of the country. Referencing the major protest marches that have taken place in recent weeks‚ the two women felt their voices had been ignored by those in power.
“What’s happening is taking away the essence of Freedom Day‚” said one. “It’s the day South Africa became a democracy and I feel it’s shifted from that. Now‚ even though you speak up‚ it feels as if you’re not heard.”
Anthony Gerson‚ 27‚ blamed the president for the pessimism in the country.
“[Zuma] didn’t do nothing. He was supposed to do something and he did nothing. Empty promises‚” he said.
Godfrey Moloto said that what makes him feel free is being able to have freedom of movement in the streets‚ unlike during apartheid when black people would regularly get stopped in the streets.
However‚ he said what makes him feel less free is not being able to find a proper job.
“That’s why I drive combis [taxi’s] every now and then because I can’t get a job. Even though during apartheid‚ the white men would stop us in the streets and ask us what we wanted there‚ when we told them we were looking for jobs‚ they’d say ‘ok‚ come with me‚ I’ll give you a job’‚ which was better than now where I can’t get a proper job‚” he said.
Patience Mokoena‚ said she could not participate in any of the demonstrations on Freedom Day because she had a young child at home‚ but she is full of hope for her four-month-old baby.
“I do feel free. My baby was born into a free country.”
Cape Town-based petrol attendant Scara Luwala found freedom at the pump. “That I am waking up and going to work‚ to a job. My job makes me feel free – the responsibility.”
What makes Luwala feel less free? “Having a bad day like maybe somebody treating me bad. Also having nothing in my house makes me feel un-free.”
Sergio Erasmus‚ of Atlantis near Cape Town‚ said he felt inspired by the freedom created by online dialogue.
“To know that there are more people who think alike. I’m a Facebook user‚ and it inspires me to read what other people have on their mind. That’s one of the things that inspires me and that makes my day. It seems there are more people who actually understand this specific day (Freedom Day). And having a job‚ a house‚ a car...”
However‚ crime is a serious concern for the new father. “Gangsterism (makes me feel less free). You can’t even leave your kid in your own yard‚ or your own wife at home when you’re working.”