South Africa marks Freedom Day, recalls apartheid’s end
KWA-THEMA, South Africa — Calls for more jobs for South Africa’s black majority and respect for the rights of the LGBTI community marked Freedom Day celebrations Saturday commemorating the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid.
Singing and dancing punctuated one gathering of about 3,500 on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
A quarter-century ago South Africa’s blacks finally were able to vote, bringing democracy. But long after the brutal apartheid system of racial discrimination, speakers said many still struggle.
“What is the meaning of freedom if you don’t have a job? Or if you don’t have a house or land?” asked David Makhura, premier of Gauteng province.
All South Africans must respect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex citizens, the premier added, saying many still suffer violence and discrimination.
President Cyril Ramaphosa marked Freedom Day at a rally in Makhanda in Eastern Cape province.
“On this day 25 years ago, we founded a new country defined by the principles of equality, unity, nonracialism and nonsexism,” Ramaphosa said. “Despite the passage of time, it is a day we remember vividly — the exhilaration of seeing nearly 20 million South Africans of all races waiting patiently at polling stations around the country to cast their ballots.”
But, he said, “As we celebrate 25 years of democracy, we need to focus all our attention and efforts on ensuring that all South Africans can equally experience the economic and social benefits of freedom.”