26 years ago, a new democracy, a Freedom for all South Africans was born. We have come a long way since then, with political freedoms, social freedoms, and for some, economic freedoms.

Yet today, as we all experience the lockdown due to COVID-19, our experiences still differ very widely. We’re acutely reminded of the vulnerability economic inequality in South Africa creates for so many of our people in this time of crisis, of our common humanity, and how our destiny as a nation and as individuals is intertwined.

We are social beings, we love to engage with others and work being intrinsic to our socialising, empowering us to learn and to develop. We are seeing that ubuntu is much more than just a nice-sounding concept, what happens to one of us has the potential to affect all of us, and to ensure our own safety and well-being, we have to ensure the well-being of all.

In the UK, the lock down is less severe but started later in the virus evolution and death rates are dramatic, whereas SA has low death rates due to acting much earlier and more harshly, having learned the lessons from other nations.

So even today, on Freedom Day, a day of joyous celebration, we need to remain respectful and compliant, to stay home and to stay safe wherever we are.

Despite the worry, fear and deprivation, we are hearing of many inspiring stories of people rallying to help others in need. There are new intiatives and Funds being created to help the most vulnerable, at the Chamber of Commerce we’ve opted to support the Solidarity Fund.

We are all looking forward to having the simple pleasures back, of sharing time with others, engaging, shaking hands and having a hug. To that day we shall return, safely. And when we do, let’s preserve and enhance the spirit of solidarity and redouble our efforts to tranform our entire country so that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of freedom.

I wish you a happy Freedom Day.

Sharon Constançon

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