Freedom Day and Workers’ Day
Twenty three years ago, on 27 April 1994, millions of South Africans braved the cold to stand in line before dawn to vote. As queues of people snaked around towns and villages, each person finally had a chance to make a difference in their lives and their community through the power of the ballot in a free, fair and equal election for the first time in South Africa’s modern history.
This simple symbol of equality – an X on a ballot sheet – was an ideal that many anti-apartheid leaders lived for, and for which they were sentenced to life in prison.
Today, we call on staff and students to remember people like Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada and others, who with selfless humility, sacrificed so much so that we could reap the benefits.
South Africa currently faces many challenges. But we are reminded that historically it was the efforts of vast numbers of people who, individually and collectively, offered up their time and commitment through civil society, NGOs and a range of diverse voices across the political spectrum that helped to bring about the robust and democratic society we have today.
This Freedom Day and Workers’ Day, I urge us to engage with one another to find innovative and inclusive solutions to help us to all work together to positively move South Africa forward.
Prof Cheryl de la Rey
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
– Author Department of University Relations