Monday, 27 April 2020 marks Freedom Day in South Africa, a day that commemorates the country's break from its apartheid past and heralded the dawn of democracy. It is 26 years since the first post-apartheid democratic elections were held in South Africa. The theme for this year is, “Solidarity and triumph of human spirit in these challenging times”.

 This year, due to a global pandemic and a nationwide lockdown, we are forced to celebrate in the confines of our own homes and spaces, but despite the setback, the unity in the air is enough to match the time former President Nelson Mandela addressed the nation in 1994.

NAPTOSA shares Reneva Fourie’s sentiments that Freedom Day under lockdown can be an opportunity to re-evaluate our self-worth https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/freedom-day-under-lockdown-an-opportunity-to-re-evaluate-our-self-worth-47230229. She argues that a core factor that underpinned our resistance against racism, sexism and economic exploitation was the need for the recognition of self-worth. As people who had experienced varying degrees of alienation, relegated to being instruments of servitude at best, ranked below animals at worst, we fought to assert our right to be treated with respect and with dignity. That is why the voter turnout on April 27, 1994, the date of South Africa’s first democratic election, was so high that the number of voting days had to be extended.

The illusion of progress has truly unravelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The enormity of the scale of poverty has been exposed and the self-worth of many South Africans took a dive as they were forced to scavenge for survival. The Covid-19 pandemic does not discriminate when it comes to robbing people of their self-worth through economic insecurity and, particularly, food insecurity and accordingly our efforts to defend self-worth should resemble the non-racial country that we seek to create.

NAPTOSA commends the state’s introduction of a Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant. This intervention elevates self-worth most as it addresses the very core of alienation. The comprehensive social security network presented by the President, and particularly the grant, allows for the fundamental reconstitution of what defines us as human beings and what informs our self-worth. The pandemic affects us all, we know that much. It does not discriminate when it comes to race, religion or culture. For that very reason, it is crucial for South Africans and the rest of the world to lean on and help one another through what has been a scary, unpredictable and difficult time. 

NAPTOSA calls on all members to support the call by Independent Media to celebrate Freedom Day together as South Africans by singing the national anthem at 18:00 today, 27 April. We can do that from our windows, balconies, doorways, gardens or out in our yards. WE WILL OVERCOME

BASIL MANUEL
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR