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Friday, 01 June 2012 10:00

Freedom – Myth or reality?

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Grace Moyo: In the wake of Freedom Day, celebrated on 27 April, there has been some uncertainty regarding the meaning of freedom – particularly in the South African context. Some Rhodes students, like Fundile Sangoni, feel that Freedom Day involves, in part, his “identity”, while others believe that it is a holiday based on history to which they do not personally feel connected. This brings into question whether South Africa and its people are truly free or if it is simply a concept or product that the government sells to the people.

Given that the economic disparity in South Africa is one of the greatest in the world, and that an estimated 4.4 million people live in informal settlements, regardless of the government's constitutional responsibility to provide adequate resources for all of its people, one can only wonder whether or not the average South African can ever truly be free.

South Africa’s political history is plagued with racism and other forms of discrimination.  After the country's liberation from aparteid, all were promised freedom and equality – rights enshrined in the new constitution. However, many of these rights are yet to be fully realised. The situation now stands in such a way that 10 % of the white population, 15 % of the Indian population, 36 %  of the coloured population and 56 % of the black population live below the poverty line. When basic survival is ones’ true priority, freedom in its concept is of little concern.

Post graduate student Kudzai Simba believes that although South Africa itself is a free country, a good number of its people are not psychologically free because of an ever present colonial mentality. According too many of them are failing to let go of the past. While it may be difficult to tell people who have no food on their tables to “forgive and free their minds”, the educated South Africans, the future leaders of this country, need to begin to do so. This is simply reiteration of student Luke Cadden view, who rightfully said that “our generation needs to change because we will be the ones to raise the next generation [of South Africans].”

“The people of this country need not forget their history, but rather free themselves from the suffering caused by it,” Cadden continued.

Freedom, as put by LLB student Lee Crisp, is subjective to the individual. It will not be accomplished through the changing of political parties, policy or even the writing of a liberal Constitution. True freedom is currently not a reality for many South Africans, but an ideology imposed by the government and it will only be achieved on an individual scale when every person can free their minds and liberate themselves.

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