THIS MONTH IN HISTORY

April 27 is Freedom Day in South Africa. It represents the first non-racial democratic election of 1994; it also marks the end of over 300 years of colonialism. The new government was led by Nelson Mandela (may he rest well) under a new constitution representing a new statehood. With this came the release of political prisoners, the return of exiles, and many victories that liberated oppressed peoples in South Africa.

Of South Africa’s 22.7 million eligible voters, 19.7 million people voted that year. Nelson Mandela won with an overwhelming 62.65% of the of the five political parties competing for the vote. This was a victory in itself showing that the people of South Africa were ready for change and ready to take an active role in making that change.

I’d like to highlight president Mandela’s speech he made on the one years anniversary of the elections, it speaks volumes to how a people can take hold of their destiny to make lasting change; he said the following, “As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1995, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future. The birth of our South African nation has, like any other, passed through a long and often painful process. The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised. On this day, you, the people, took your destiny into your own hands. You decided that nothing would prevent you from exercising your hard-won right to elect a government of your choice. Your patience, your discipline, your single-minded purposefulness have become a legend throughout the world…“ (sahistory.org.za)

On this upcoming freedom day, which is in two days, we should remember the sacrifices of those who came before us and build on those contributions, regardless of where we are from in the world. South Africa’s story is a lesson learned for all people of African descent, and Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for the example he set in this world.

To find out more about South Africa’s Freedom Day check out: http://www.gov.za/speeches/freedom-day-2016

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