Song to capture South Africa’s freedom spirit


3 April 2014

From Alexandra township in Johannesburg to Gugulethu outside Cape Town, South Africans are famous for their love of music and dance – so it’s little wonder that a national song should be chosen to capture the spirit of the country’s 20 Years of Freedom celebrations.

On Thursday, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile announced that work had begun on composing a national song to form part of the country’s Freedom Day celebrations on 27 April.

Mashatile was speaking in Pretoria following a session of the National Communication Partnership (NCP), which brings together stakeholders in the communication field to discuss ways of uniting the nation around the 20 Years of Freedom celebrations.

The session coincided with the launch of 2014 Freedom Month. South Africa’s Freedom Day commemorates the country’s first post-apartheid elections, held on 27 April 1994, when South Africans of all races got to vote for the first time.

This year, however, the celebrations will assume greater significance, as the country reflects on the journey of the last two decades, and how far it has come since the end of apartheid and the birth of democracy.

The main Freedom Day event will take place at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where President Jacob Zuma will make a special address and where a multi-cultural carnival, mirroring the diversity and solidarity of the country, will be staged.

Whether happy or sad, South Africans have always had a special way of communing with each other and the rest of the world through song. The role played by music during the country’s struggle for freedom is well documented, and still finds expression in the telling of stories from that era.

Today, Mashatile said, the nation has a different song to sing, and this will be reflected in how South Africans celebrate their two decades of democracy.

The government has also launched a nationwide programme to give South Africans a chance to be part of the celebrations.

This includes the Freedom Fridays campaign, which encourages people each Friday to wear anything that shows their pride in being South African, and a “Tell your story” campaign, which gives people the opportunity to share their stories of freedom and democracy.

A travelling exhibition, Building the Legacy: 20 Years of Freedom, is busy touring the country, while the Rise and Fall of Apartheid exhibition at Johannesburg’s Museum Africa documents the major milestones in the country’s recent and more distant past.

“We have also launched a series of 20 Years of Freedom countdown clocks at a range of public spaces, such as malls around the country and at OR Tambo International Airport,” Mashatile said.

“We call on all South Africans to embrace these celebrations.”