South Africa’s freedom has shown us its number – 27 years in 2021 and marching on. Yesterday, 27 April 2021 was a holiday for some, but for others it was a normal working day and for others it was a day of daily struggle against poverty, inequality and unemployment. Yet for the leadership, the freedom fighters who carry the Hope’s of the many in the freedom abyss it was just another day in the passage of time. A day after this big day, we ponder and reflect on what we must do as South Africa marches towards adulthood.
“…Let us be more generous, more jointly responsible, more humane. Let South Africa become a model of a more just, more humane, future world. If you can achieve it, all of us will be able to” said Fidel Castro 27 years ago in 1994.
Our collective actions as a nation, as a people have failed the vision Fidel Castro had for us when we gained our freedom. When others the world over could not be seen associating with us, Fidel and the people of Cuba were there for us. These failures have more to do with the political tzars who sold our freedom for a pice of silver. As Smuts Ngonyama, the then Spokesperson of the ANC and an NEC member aptly captured it – “we didn’t fight for this freedom to be poor”. When he said this, there was no voice of reason to disassociate the ANC from being lumped into the vision of crass materialism that Ngonyama was propagating which was diametrically opposed to the vision Castro had for us.
27 years ago, many young people had not been born. 27 years ago, the youth of the time were bubbling with hope and Castro was articulating the South Africa of their future. 27 years ago, freedom fighters, both internal and those who had left the shores of the country to fight for freedom were full of hope that 27 years later, South Africa will be a different country. Young and old, political and apolitical, cultural and uncultured, we all wanted South Africa to be a “model of a more just, more humane, future world”. Something went wrong, horribly wrong.
Can we fix ourselves and go back to the day that 27 April 1994 promised to us? We can go back I believe. Going back to our 1994 vision means leaving others behind and leaving some behaviours behind.
We remain hopeful because our number is firmly engraved in the hearts and minds of South Africans who yearn for freedom to be meaningful. We have created Show Me Your Number (SMYN) as a contribution to retracing our steps to the ideals of 1994. It is a small contribution to the sea of hopelessness that faces us. Our efforts are a small part of contributions that others like us continue to make. We are unmoved by being labelled as captured as we join hands with government, business and labour stakeholders.
We only want to contribute to a South Africa of our dreams. 27 is just a number and on this 27th freedom day celebrations, we are part of South Africa that Fidel Castro envisaged we create in 1994.
Mabalane MfundisiExecutive Director Show Me Your Number