What does Freedom Day mean to you? This was the fundamental question asked to scores of young people when Makukhanye Art-Room, in partnership with Africa Unite, held a Freedom Day celebration at Site B, on Saturday April 28.
While the day is celebrated on April 27 annually these two organisations opted to mark the day on Saturday by having various art performances and informative discussions about freedom and Freedom Day.
Young people argued that Freedom Day had lost its significance while others stated that Freedom Day remind them of the painful history of South Africa. There were also others who said the new dispensation marked by Freedom Day had brought them dozens of opportunities even though the majority of young people were not taking full advantage of them.
Representative of Africa Unite, Fatima Maiga, said they wanted to create a platform for young people to express their views about the day and what it means to them.
Ms Maiga said they also wanted to afford them an opportunity to showcase their God-given talent through various art. But most importantly, she said they want young people to engage in meaningful debate. She said it was important that young people were allowed to raise their voices without the fear of being restricted or be told what to say. However, she said that they wanted to draft a way forward in addressing some of the challenges that still face them.
She added that they wanted them to become agents of change in their communities and be at the forefront in the upliftment of their communities.
Ms Maiga urged young people to take full advantage of opportunities at their disposal. “We want young people who are well informed. We want young people not just to celebrate freedom but understand its significance. We want the young generation to remember the great heroes who gave up their lives so that the current generation can have endless life opportunities. We want to honour the sacrifices of the fallen heroes and heroines,” she said.
Mfuleni resident, Sibusiso Marhaxa, said what they were taught to see as freedom was not really freedom. He said Freedom Day to him was like any other normal day and if he could be requested to go to work or school he would because the day has no significance for him.
Mr Marhaxa said from his observation the freedom that the fallen heroes and heroines fought for is not what the country got. He said the only freedom that black people received was just to access some of the services that white people already had, but still there were limitations to that. He said if a black person walks around Constantia suburbs there was a 99% chance that police and securities would be called to chase that person away. “Blacks are always seen as criminals in white suburbs. White people feel threatened by the presences of black people in their areas. Let’s create our own freedom,” he said.
Mr Marhaxa said black people continue to be oppressed and live in horrible conditions.
Director of Makukhanye Art Room, Mandisi Sindo, said the purpose of the event was to celebrate Freedom Day and enable young people to talk about its significance.
He said young people raised critical issues such as mental slavery and how people were still oppressed in the new South Africa. Mr Sindo said attendees also pointed out that the education system has failed black people but he also noted that the day was about promoting the spirit of unity and peace.