Thought Leadership

Freedom Day 27th April 2022-A celebration of Freedom Day, but are we truly Free?

April 2022

Freedom Fighters fought the battle against apartheid for many years. Extraordinary people such as Charlotte Maxeke took it upon themselves to fight for what they truly believed in and for the rights of fellow Africans. The criteria for fighting these fights required bravery in the face of threats to one's life, the strong possibility of arrest and imprisonment by the apartheid police, and the risk of losing it all. Many persevered in their fight for Democracy, shedding their blood, sweat, and tears, yet that never hindered them from fighting with pride and dignity. Many people of color continuously suffered the consequences of apartheid until, finally, a new day dawned, signaling to the government of the time that it had become evident that apartheid had died the death that it had long deserved to die, ultimately allowing the people of South Africa, of all races, to vote in the first Democratic National Elections in 1994. Charlotte Maxeke made a remarkable impact on the Freedom of South Africa, and her legacy is embedded in the footprints of South Africa. We celebrate her life and her bravery annually, on the 27th of April. 

For more than 20 years, young men and women, also known as Millennials, have experienced a sense of freedom unlike anything that their parents felt.   They have enjoyed the right to be whomever they choose to be, date whomever they please, associate with people of different races, and generally craft their own paths without fear of imprisonment or other harsh realities previously faced by their parents. Thanks to the Democracy which we enjoy today, South Africa has become highly regarded globally, with the citizens enjoying rights that are enshrined in a world-class constitution, ensuring that we indeed “are one” – Simunye.
The outbreak of one of the world's deadliest pandemics in March 2020 saw many loved ones laid to rest, dreams shattered, and livelihoods wiped out, in turn exposing the real inequalities faced in our society. Terrible atrocities occurred during the hard lockdowns, including high rates of violence against women and children.

Sadly, South Africa was again transformed, tearing loved ones apart, isolating many, and confining people to their homes. Covid-19 threatened lives physically, mentally, and even to the extent of fearing imprisonment because of not adhering to the rules. But, once again, South Africans fought the battle with pride and dignity, and now, while trying to regain what was lost, in the recovery phase, the question is: Are we truly free?

In seeking the answers to this pertinent question, we consulted the youth of Barloworld on their views around the significance of Freedom Day to them and whether, in their opinions, their idea of Freedom Day is a shared view with that of their parents.

The first employee engaged for her views was Gcobisa Mdingi, a Barloworld Equipment employee in the Human Capital Department. She shared her thoughts on what Freedom Day means to her as a young professional and the type of freedom South Africans seek;

“I am born Free. I was born in 1994 and could never understand why black people were not allowed to walk freely in the street and were denied access to certain areas. The whole apartheid concept sounds ridiculous, and I cannot fathom or even comprehend that something like that could have ever existed. Because of freedom, I am able to express myself as a young person, reach out to every opportunity that comes my way, and explore every avenue in all walks of life.”

The conversation continued with another young person, a Barloworld Equipment (BWE) employee named Musa Mokhobole, who is The Transformation and Diversity Officer at BWE. With a sense of excitement for things to come, he takes the readers down memory lane and what freedom means to him personally.

“Freedom to me means being able to freely express myself in any way possible, where I see fit. It can either be in religious views and preferences, cultural opinions, and aspirations, without having the concern that I may be judged or labeled by someone. Freedom Day also reminds me of the efforts made by the freedom fighters during the apartheid era. Through their dedication towards our freedom, we can now witness the concept of unity and equality in our country. It has given us the freedom to interact with everyone without racial discrimination. We've been given equal opportunities to make valuable contributions towards the growth of our economy within the country.”

As we prepare to celebrate 28 years of Democracy on the 27th of April, may we never forget the profound thoughts shared by these young people, which remind us of the cost of this freedom that was hard-won by our forefathers, our loved ones, and our friends. May we treat this day with the reverence and respect that it deserves and be reminded that many lost their lives for our right to vote, our right to live where we choose, and our right to travel extensively and enjoy each corner of this beloved country. It is imperative that we strive to obtain equality in all areas of life to ensure that we never again experience the horror that was apartheid.

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