Freedom Day in South Africa - It is a celebration

On 27th April 1994 the first democratic election was held in South Africa. Hurrah. At last. I'm so very happy for South Africa. Why is this so exciting, and what is the story behind it? Here is what happened. This is a very short description of events, I feel almost bad for writing it like this, taking into account what this country and its citizens went through over the last centuries ...    

Centuries ago
, in 1652, a fleet of the Dutch East India Company arrives in Cape Town and establishes a colony. From then on it is all about pushing away the indigenous people. Around 1800 the British take over, they are after gold and diamonds. The Dutch (Boers) are so very shattered and annoyed, and there are fights with the British. The indigenous people still don't play a role really, other than that they are made to work for the white rulers.

South Africa - A plan called Apartheid

All the time there are fears (fear, that is the root of all evil) that the indigenous people are going to claim back what is their land. In 1948 the National Party comes up with a plan called Apartheid. And that plan separates all black people and those of a mixed race from the white population. Ever since then there is this resistance campaign against apartheid. Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo together with the African National Congress issue the Freedom Charter. The ruling National Party doesn’t like that at all, and arrests everybody involved in it, to suppress the freedom movement.

Boycott products from South Africa

South Africa leaves the Commonwealth and becomes independent, black students all over the country demonstrate for their right to be taught in the English language. The police kill hundreds of activists. For decades the international community doesn’t do much but eventually European countries and the US impose sanctions on South Africa. Many people boycott products from South Africa and stop buying them. This is not fun for South Africa, tensions grow bigger and there are lots of strikes and demonstrations in the country. 

At the end of the 1980s a new president gets into power, and with him the situation in the country changes for the better. De Klerk frees Nelson Mandela from jail and drops restricting laws. Together they catapult South Africa into democracy.

1994 - the first democratic election

On 27th April 1994 the first democratic election is held in South Africa, and Nelson Mandela gets elected as president.

Black and white sitting together on a bench

South Africa is free - now what?

It is so easy to say “if only that fleet of the Dutch East India Company wouldn’t have landed in 1652, then …” and to simply live on after that, but that would be too easy. Restrictive measures for a certain group of people, can get introduced in any country, at any given time, if the wrong people get into power. As always, it is best to learn from history, to create a better future. We all can reject prejudice. Maybe start with little things, stop bullying your next of kin for your own advantage, whatever it is, we can start now ...

Form an opinion next time you are in South Africa. Visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg or the District Six Museum, Robben Island and the Slave Lodge in Cape Town.

Do you dream of travelling to South Africa? 


Can’t wait to hear from you.

From Berlin with love