Freedom Day

Celebrated in South Africa and by many displaced South Africans all over the world, Freedom Day is a holiday that is celebrated on April 27th. This holiday commemorates and celebrates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994. These elections were the first in South Africa in which race was not used to bar some people from voting.

On that day, every person of every color who was 18 or older could vote. This is in stark contrast to elections held during Apartheid, which only allowed whites full voting rights, while minorities either had none or had limited rights to vote.

History of Freedom Day

Since the 17th century, the African majority in South Africa has been plagued by colonialism and oppression. Although it was pervasive throughout the entire country, and indeed the continent, it was not 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 was not based on white preference or privilege. A year later, on April 27th, 1994, the country finally had 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 inaugurated as well.

Freedom Day Customs & Traditions

South Africans, and tourists 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 head to Franschhoek to the location closest to where Nelson Mandela spent his final days imprisoned.

Although it is now the Drakenstein Correctional Facility, there is a statue of Mandela located right outside the prison gates. Some people may also decide to go to an Apartheid museum to learn about its history and how it impacted South Africa.

Where is it celebrated?
South Africa (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
April 27 Saturday
Next year (2025)
April 27 Sunday
Last year (2023)
April 27 Thursday