Celebrated in South Africa and by many displaced South Africans all over the world, Freedom Day is a holiday which is celebrated on April 27th. This holiday commemorates and celebrates the first post-apartheid elections that were held on that day in 1994. These elections were the first ones in South Africa in which race wasn’t used to bar some people from voting.
On that day, every person of every color who happened to be 18 or older could vote. This is in stark contrast to elections held during Apartheid – which only allowed whites full voting rights and minorities either had none or had limited rights to vote.
History of Freedom Day
Since the 17th century, the African majority of South Africa has been plagued by colonialism and oppression. Although it was pervasive throughout the entire country, and indeed the continent, it wasn’t officially institutionalized until 1948, when Apartheid officially began. On February 2nd, 1990, the African National Congress, Pan African Congress and the South African Communist Party all had their bans lifted.
Three years later, a constitution was drawn up that wasn’t based on white preference or privilege. A year later, on April 27th, 1994, the country finally got its chance to cast its first vote in a democratic election. On May 10th, the African National Congress was voted into power and the first freely-elected President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was as well.
Freedom Day Customs & Traditions
South Africans, and tourist spending the day in South Africa, spend Freedom Day in a variety of different ways. Some people check out one of the many festivals, such as the AfrikaBurn Festival in Tankwa, Karoo, South Africa. Some people head into Franschhoek to the location closest to where Nelson Mandela spent his final few days imprisoned.
Although it’s now the Drakenstein Correctional Facility, there is a statue of Mandela which is located right outside of the prison gates. Some people may also decide to go to an Apartheid museum to learn the history of it and how it impacted South Africa