Today is Freedom Day in the country of my birth.....South Africa.
A day that was to herald a new day.....and victory of peace and negotiation over hatred and violence.
People, many many people, gave their lives for that day.
As with many ideals for peace and democracy across the world the reality has fallen short.
Two friends who lived through it all and still live in it everyday, who stood in hard places in hard times, who risked their lives for this Freedom had this to say...............
Rod Bulman wrote:
FREEDOM DAY – MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
On 27 April we have a public holiday; Freedom Day. We commemorate that heady Day-of-The-Miracle when we acted as one, treated each other with respect and dignity, and shyly shared our hopes and dreams with each other. Do you remember the euphoria, the feeling that we not only could do it, but had in fact done it?
Our religious calendar is also full of commemorations. Many of them also evoke feelings of hope and dreams being on the verge of coming true. Like Christmas and the sharing of gifts as a way of saying “I love you and want your hopes and dreams to come true”. Do you also sometimes have that post-Christmas feeling of quiet satisfaction: family and friends have been together, everyone has had a treat, there were no serious disagreements, and you just wish it would last?
So what has happened to the hopes and dreams we shared as we stood in the queues in 1994? What did we do with those mutual gifts of respect and dignity? Have we treasured them using them with a smile of pleasure as we recall the giver? Or have we treated them like just another of the unwanted trinkets we will swap as soon as the shops re-open?
According to the One in Nine Campaign and FEW “We live in a country with increasing levels of state violence against the most vulnerable sections of society, an increasing clampdown on political protest and dissidence, and a patriarchal and capitalist governance system in which perpetrators of all forms of violent crimes and corruption go unpunished as a matter of course.”
So is this really the freedom we thought we were getting? And even more pertinently, what are we as Christians going to do about it?
Fiona Bulman wrote
I rose early while it was still dark, donned my IEC Tshirt, packed a quick lunch and headed up the Edendale valley and over the top into Vulindlela. As the sun was beginning to appear there, next to the road, was the primary school. I walked in past the silent queue winding its way onto the property and then into the large classroom lit by gas lamps as the principal had been worried it would be too dark to see when we began.
and so I cast my first vote in the people's election.
That is what freedom day means for me and no one can take that away from me. My heart still sings at the memory of that morning.
Happy Freedom day!Allan and I voted in that long hoped for election here in Canada.....we shared the hope albeit from afar.
And no matter how far we are today from that Freedom Day let us never underestimate just WHAT a day it was.
We are returning to South Africa in December to show our children this great country. We have much discussed the bleak history of Apartheid, the violent and terrifying transition in the 1980's, Nelson Mandela's release and these elections in 1994.
We have talked much about how you right the wrongs of generations..... of how long it takes to rebuild, restore, reconcile a broken and divided land.
For now we see only from afar.....we hear the stories of hope and those of disillusionment and despair.... of corruption and abuse of power, of poverty, of resilience. As we look to visit as tourists we see a beautiful, magnificent landscape and so many opportunities.
We also know the risks of visiting. Of going back.
Fiona said on the photo of Allan's graduation today that it was fitting that he graduated on Freedom Day. Indeed today he is finally free from the bureaucratic nightmare of being a South African immigrant whose qualifications were not recognized. Today he is free to be recognized as a Canadian Graduate, A Canadian Educator......the final hoops have been jumped through. He was blessed that the jumping was nourishing and engaging and that he gained so much from his studies but in many ways today was our Freedom Day too.