South Africans celebrate Freedom Day on April 27 every year to mark the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. A quarter of a century later, though, questions remain: how much and whose freedom is to be celebrated?
The differing answers among voters might affect the results of the national elections on May 8.
South Africans can still not celebrate freedom from want. They are painfully aware that one cannot eat democracy. Formal political equality is rightly celebrated as an achievement by those who suffered under dictatorship, minority rule and other forms of oppressive regimes that denied them basic rights. But democracy doesn’t put food on the table. Nor does it provide decent shelter or secure a dignified living.
Former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous 1941 speech to Congress identified four freedoms: those of speech, of worship, from want and from fear.