‘This is a false freedom’

UNATHI OBOSE

Scores of people converged on Spine Road High School to celebrate Freedom Day on Wednesday April 27. Those gathered, however, had mixed feelings about the occasion.

There event was organised by Southern Suburbs Cultural Society (SSCS) to commemorate the first democratic elections in South Africa, in 1994.

Among the entertainers who performed on stage were Black Noise, the Joe Slovo High School choir, singer Aziza Davids and poet Anelisa Gqabaza.

Pupils from about 18 high schools in and around Mitchell’s Plain attended the event.

SSCS organiser Michael Williams described the event as a campaign for a non-racial South Africa and the first in a series. “This campaign is not specifically only for today (Freedom Day). South Africa is not free. The majority of the people are still poor. Our education system is in a shambles. There is shortage of houses and proper sanitation,” said Mr Williams.

He urged people to unite against discrimination, saying: “There is one race, which is the human race. People must get together and decide what must be done. Our constitution doesn’t represent all of us, only the elite people. And economically we are not free,” he said, adding that people should not be suffering or living in shacks if they are free.

“This is a false freedom. There is poverty, hunger, a high unemployment rate and poor education,” he said.

Mr Williams said children are struggling at school because of their disadvantaged backgrounds, and added that they support the campaign for free education.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology student Abubakr Hattas, 23, agreed that South Africa is not really free. “Let’s fight racial discrimination. Let’s not allow our backgrounds to determine our destinations. And we shouldn’t feel inferior because of our skin colour. Through hard work and determination SA youth can be free,” he said.

Mr Hattas felt it was important to celebrate Freedom Day and urged government to invest more on youth through education.

A Grade 11 pupil from Philippi High, Asanele Ntaba, 18, said Freedom Day means nothing to her. “I’m still studying in a shipping container because we don’t have proper classes. When it’s cold the containers are cold and in summer they are hot and stinking. We can’t concentrate on our studies. And we have shortage of text books,” said Ms Ntaba. When Plainsman asked her why she attended the event she said: “I came here because I’m a member of the student representative council and I was forced to come here. To me there is nothing to celebrate.”

Black Noise leader, and community activist Emile YX? advised students to think broadly. “We must put race issues aside and think out of the box. Let’s unite, and a change is not just about the words, its all about the effort that you put in,” he said.

President of the South African Tertiary Institutions Choral Associations, Songezo Maqula, 30, also called on South Africans to unite. “We need to change our mindset and stop discriminating against one another because of skin colour. Let’s ensure that we do our best to change the country. Through sport and recreation the youth can be united,” said Mr Maqula.

Badronessah Solarie, 57, added: “This is a memorable day and I think we should celebrate every year. During the apartheid regime we were not allowed to take a bus or train with white people. And today we are one community and united.”