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Impaired freedom is like a vehicle with slow puncture

True emancipation yet to come

President Cyril Ramaphosa receives a warm welcome in Middelburg, Mpumalanga before his Freedom Day address.
President Cyril Ramaphosa receives a warm welcome in Middelburg, Mpumalanga before his Freedom Day address.
Image: Alaister Russell/ Sunday Times

SA celebrates Freedom Day on April 27 annually. The holiday is a commemoration of our nation’s first democratic election that took place on the day in 1994. As a member of the SA youth, born a year before that first democratic election, the day’s significance tends to reveal a dearth of pride in my spirit. I believe true freedom is yet to come.

Before lamenting this dearth, I must unapologetically declare that any and every reminder of my forefathers and mothers’ sacrifices, to be granted the opportunity to put an ‘X’ on a ballot paper, ensuring my generation and I access to opportunities to dream and live freely is quintessential. No history book, politician or scholar should denounce the pain injected into our lineage to become the nation we call the democratic republic of SA today!

Our people were indoctrinated into a system of capitalism where self-preservation was a form of survival instinct. A passbook was a double-edged sword that granted our elders access to work and simultaneously justified their exclusion or imprisonment. With democracy, the pass was replaced with limitless leadership positions and job titles. Suddenly the illiterate could become treasurers and managing directors based on their ability to have successfully negotiated their freedom to live freely and not lead. On the other side of the sword, inexperience resulted in the slow puncture of the nation’s fiscal position.

I believe issues of corruption, maladministration and lawlessness have been brewing since the first ‘X’ marked the spot. The evidence is only accumulating as a result in the increase in a more literate youth. The freedom fight of today’s youth is but a moment of deja vu. We have been here before. In 1985, the apartheid government declared a national state of emergency to try ‘govern the ungovernable’ radicals who sought aggressive measures to try and gain socioeconomic emancipation. Just as it was in the late 1980s, we (the youth) have no access to jobs, wealth and land!

When I sought the perspective of Cebolenkosi Khumalo, University of the Witwatersrand student representative council (SRC) president, about what he views the ‘struggle’ movement of today to be about, he echoed my sentiments around economic freedom and equal access to education being at the core of our nation’s current plight. That and the erosion of infrastructure in the country. We should also fight the trajectory of becoming a failed state. When it comes to education, our fight is to close the gap between private and public schools. In the public and private sectors, we must fight the capitalist urge of hoarding wealth for a select few.

At a glance, our fight is deemed to be against our struggle heroes who hold positions of influence in the state. However, at its core, the freedom fight of today’s youth is based on our desperate cry to claim tangible freedom in its entirety as should have been the case when Tata Mandela took hold of that ballpoint pen in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal, 29 years ago. With time, more of us are privileged to be educated enough to know and do better.

For me, a member of today’s youth, originally born in the now dilapidated town of Kroonstad, I am fortunate to be granted a platform to make my mark through Empowayouth, a platform that exists to give the youth access to educational, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

My parting words and cry is for the rest of us who are on this climb to freedom to do our bit to leave footpaths that are wide enough to allow others to eventually join us in economic Zion.

Mayibuye iAfrika. Mayibuyiswe yithi!

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