Monday, 28 April 2014

20 Years Of Democracy - 20 Years Of Freedom

I remember like it was yesterday, going to the polls to vote for change in our country. The referendum for one man one vote, I believe was the biggest step, before the 1994 elections. The yes for one man one vote was the start to giving each and everyone, no matter their race or creed, their right to dignity. In 1994 when we went to the polls, it was with a feeling of excitement and anticipation for change, I think there was very little fear - yes there was fear and negativity by a very small minority, but most South Africans were ready to embrace the change that was long overdue. We went to the polls knowing exactly who we were going to vote for and more importantly WHY, we were voting for that party. I think we also knew that our new President would be the esteemed Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, long before the votes were counted. I remember the long long queues winding along roads (on foot) to get to the voting stations. There was a sense of camaraderie, everyone chatting and laughing, no negativity, just a determination to cast your vote.

Sadly 20 years later, our Country is still rife with racism. We are a country filled with racism; sexism; prejudice and xenophobia and not just one race all races. There are so many people who think because I share their skin colour that I share their disgusting racist views. I am so tired of hearing how good it was "back in the day" - it was good for who? Mark has this young customer, who is no older than 26, who is forever saying how much better it was before 1994 - um unless you were an abused kid then pre-1994 should be better than today - life is far better when you are four or five than it will ever be when you are 25 and 26. We lived in an autocratic country, where it was compulsory for boys as young as Chad to go to an army to learn to kill - why? just so that you did not have to share a park bench with someone of colour or your child did not have to catch the same bus to school and go to school with a child of colour. We were taught that if we shared a bench/cup/table with a person of colour something bad would happen, maybe get a terrible disease, I don't know what terrible atrocity would occur, we were not even told why - only that "THY SHALT NOT. Sadly, people are still teaching their children their racist views today.

Twenty years later we still have communities with no running water; where the bulk of our nation live in shacks, where quality education is mostly based on financial status, BUT everyone has their dignity. We now live in a Country where sitting on a park bench is not a crime, where restaurants and movie theaters are for all to share, where the choice to live or school your children is not dictated by the colour of your skin. Unfortunately, going to the polls this year, 20 years into our democracy, is not going to be met with as much enthusiasm and determination as it was in 1994. We are going to the polls with a vote of no confidence in our leaders - not only in the ruling party, but the opposition party and all other parties. Instead of the leaders going to the polls with what they will do for us as a nation, they are going to the polls slating each other. Lets hope that the next 20 years is filled with peace; happiness and good leaders that ensure a further 20 years of freedom and democracy so that we can be truly free of racism and prejudice.

Happy Freedom Day 2014

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