“Freedom” is a word that is frequently used, often lightly, but which in the context of South Africa carries a profound weight of history and emotion.
While the notion of unity and equality is something “born-frees” (those born into a democratic, post-Apartheid South Africa) may take for granted today, the first South African democratic election, on 27 April 1994, came at the cost of lives and many decades of suffering and struggle. Overthrowing the monolith of apartheid took the effort of millions of people around the world, and the sacrifice of tens of thousands more at home.
The image of Nelson Mandela casting his vote became iconic, as in that moment over three hundred years of colonialism, white minority rule and segregation came to an end. As newly elected President Mandela took up the mantle of leading the country, a new democratic government was established, founded on what would become the world’s most progressive constitution.
As South Africa’s democracy continues its growth, striving to correct the injustices of the past, 27th April, Freedom Day, remains a beacon of hope for all.
Yet, despite all that has been achieved and all the magnificent progress that has been made, there remain huge challenges to overcome. South African youth, in particular, have survived on a diet of hope alone for far too long. They need jobs, they need access to opportunities, education, and to become fully integrated into the economy and society if the dreams of the founders of our new nation, and the people who elected them, are to be fully realised.
The South African Chamber of Commerce UK keenly recognises that whilst government is fundamental to leading the transformation of the country, it can not do so alone. All sectors of society need to play their part, and first and foremost of these is the business community. We remain committed to helping South Africa to grow its economic footprint internationally, and particularly in the UK, to help bring wealth, enterprise and opportunity to even the most neglected corners of our wonderful country.
“The birth of our South African nation has, like any other, passed through a long and often painful process. The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised. On this day, you, the people, took your destiny into your own hands. You decided that nothing would prevent you from exercising your hard-won right to elect a government of your choice. Your patience, your discipline, your single-minded purposefulness have become a legend throughout the world…” President Nelson Mandela