South Africa marks Freedom Day today

BY: Seth J. Bokpe
Ms Lulu Xingwana (right), South African High Commissioner to Ghana, speaking to Mr Seth Kwame Bokpe (left), reporter, Daily Graphic.
Ms Lulu Xingwana (right), South African High Commissioner to Ghana, speaking to Mr Seth Kwame Bokpe (left), reporter, Daily Graphic.

South Africans in Ghana will join others across the world to celebrate the country’s Freedom Day today.

The day will be used to celebrate the legacy of the late iconic South Africa leader, Nelson Mandela’s legacy as well as some fallen heroes of its anti-apartheid struggle including jazz musician, Hugh Masakela and former South African First Lady, Winnie Mandela, who passed away this year.

‘’We will be remembering and celebrating their lives which means a lot to our development,’’ South Africa’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms Luu Xingwana, told the Daily Graphic.

South Africa Freedom Day

South Africa celebrates Freedom Day each year on April 27, marking the anniversary of the day in 1994 when the country held its first ever all-race, democratic election, ending decades of sanctioned racial oppression under the apartheid system.


This marked the end of over 300 years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution.

In South Africa, it is a major celebration marked with speeches and concerts.

Activities in Ghana

In Ghana, the day will be celebrated by a reception to be organised by the South African High Commission to be attended by the representatives of the government of Ghana, the diplomatic corps, business leaders and some members of the public.

“We would also be talking about our relations with Ghana, where we started and where we are today be it trade or social relationships, we would be highlighting that as well as some of the achievements, the way forward and where we want to move forward together as Ghana and South Africa,” she said.

Memory lane

Ghana and South Africa established political and diplomatic relations on May 25, 1994 just 15 days after President Mandela was sworn in as South African President on May 10, 1994.

Walking down memory lane, the High Commissioner recalled that most African countries had shunned South Africa and refused to establish diplomatic mission with it because of the apartheid regime.

“Our leadership at that time under Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo and others were able to go out to African countries, mostly to garner support and were mostly supported by African countries.

“As a result when we called for sanctions and isolation of the apartheid regime, we got support from African heads of states and African people generally.

“That is how it started and we appreciate that support and as a result when Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black President of a free non-racist South Africa, we opened quite a number of embassies across Africa. Because of sanctions and isolation against apartheid, many African countries did not have South African Embassies.

“One of the first countries we opened an embassy in was Ghana. The President was sworn-in on May 10, 1994. In the same month, he sent letters to open a diplomatic mission in Ghana. From then onwards, our relations grew from strength to strength at government level, economic relations and people to people relations,’’ she said.

Tributes

She paid tributes to Dr Kwame Nkrumah and other African leaders who championed the anti-apartheid cause and supported black South Africans during their tough times. Ms Xingwana said the significance of the fight against apartheid was that today’s generation could live together and enjoy social services and amenities including education, health and housing which were highly segregated in the past.

Apartheid remnants

She, however, observed that there were still remnants of the racial regime which was mental in nature.

“We still have the remnants of apartheid because it is still in the mind. You can strike it out of the statutes and laws but it takes years and generations to remove it from the mind,” she added.