On April 27th, South Africa celebrated Freedom Day. YAGM-SA participant Ryan wrote the following reflection, shared with permission:
today, april 27th, south africa celebrates freedom day. this day commemorates the first truly democratic election in 1994, in which all citizens of this country were permitted to vote. this moment was achieved through the anti-apartheid movement, spearheaded by numerous sectors of the marginalized community here, most notably, the african national congress (anc). on may 10th, nelson mandela was officially inaugurated as president of the newly free south africa, after a resounding victory that made waves worldwide.
this day carries a lot of weight for me, because of the opportunity i’ve had this year to get down with amazing people in conversation about what it meant to go out & vote, casting their support for nelson. though, many have argued that the anc of that time is not represented in this current collective of leaders, it’s still special to go back & reflect on all it took to get free.
but, freedom. i’m still sitting with what that word represents on a human level. see, what’s been most revealing to me this year is that, though this country is not under the oppressive hand of the nationalist government, many symptoms of that struggle still have space (joblessness, poverty, lacking healthcare & education, etc.). there’s work to be done to open this democracy up to folks who are still the below.
this, of course, brings me back home to the states & the work being undertaken, as part of the black liberation movement & the many movements amongst all people of color. there are so many parallels which allow me to, in a sarcastic way, marvel at the lengths that upholders of white supremacy culture have gone to historically protect a belief that their domination is a god given right. that has played out in the systems of oppression that you can find across the globe. i’ve come to see that the black liberation movement is global, in this i find my call to be afro-centric – it’s self-love in solidarity. furthermore, i’ve come to see that all movements in which people of color are demanding liberation are interconnected & i think that needs to be invoked more. both of these have undoubtedly been my biggest take-aways from this year.
so, to grant one freedom – is it to merely unchain or is it to fully liberate? there’s a difference & the difference has cost us lives, so precious & valuable to our evolution as humans. no matter what you deduct from current affairs, people are tired & it’s obvious that they are justified in the fatigue. so, people are fighting to get a piece of the pie that’s been promised & will keep doing so. this fight spans all across the african diaspora, the states, brazil, mexico, palestine, you name the rest. these people will get all free. what side of history will you be on?