Freedom Day is the commemoration of the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994. These were the first post-apartheid national elections to be held in South African where anyone could vote regardless of race.
The 2020 Freedom Month is commemorated under the theme ‘Valuing Our Freedom in Difficult Times’.
The first democratic elections on 27 April 1994 gave birth to our constitutional democracy. Previously, under the apartheid regime, non-whites, in general, had only limited rights to vote while indigenous black South Africans had no voting rights whatsoever.
Apartheid was officially implemented in South Africa in 1948; however, colonialism and oppression of the African majority had plagued various countries throughout the African continent since as early as the 1600s.
Under the brutal Apartheid rule, indigenous people of colour in South Africa were denied the right to vote and hence did not have a say in the political governing and running of the country. During Apartheid, the majority of South Africans were excluded from any form of political power or influence.
Freedom Day honours those who fought for our country’s liberation, and the many men and women who suffered through incarceration, banning’s and torture on behalf of the oppressed during Apartheid.
The First Democratic Election of 1994
On Wednesday, 27 April 1994, the nation cast its vote in the first democratic election. For the first time, all races in the country were allowed to vote for a government of their choice. Nineteen political parties participated in the non-racial election, and 19.7 million people across the country voted.
The African National Congress (ANC) won the election with 62.65% of the vote, and the party’s frontman, the revered Nelson Mandela became the first black president of the country on the 9th of May. Contrary to fears of political violence, the election took place in a festive and celebratory atmosphere.