On the 27th of april we celebrate our 24th annual Freedom Day which commemorates the first post-apartheid elections that were held on this day in 1994. It is important for South Africans to reflect, teach and celebrate the past in order to pave the way for our future, due to the recent passing of the mother of the nation “Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela” we have decided to reflect, teach and celebrate some of South Africa’s patriotic and iconic Freedom Fighters such as Steve Biko, Chief Albert Luthuli, Robert Sobukwe, and Govern Mbeki.
Bantu Stephen Biko
Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid activist, African nationalist/ African socialist, idealist and is well known for establishing one of the most controversial and effective anti-apartheid campaigns known as the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) during the 1960s which led to the 16 June 1976 uprising. Steve Biko was studying Medicine at the University of Natal where he was inspired to start his own organisation due to frustration of white liberal’s dominance rather than Black’s in anti-apartheid groups. He believed black people had to organise themselves independently because they were the ones mostly affected by the apartheid and that led to the establishment of the South African Students Organisation (SASO) in 1968. Membership was open only for Blacks but other races such as Indians and Coloureds were welcome to participate too. Steve Biko was strongly influenced by Frantz Fanon, the African-American Black Power Movement and was strongly opposed to the apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule even though he had white associates, companions and colleagues.
Chief Albert Luthuli
Albert Luthuli was a South African teacher, activist, one of the first African and the first person outside Europe/America to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize winners for his role in the non-violent struggle against the apartheid system. He was elected the president of the African National Congress (ANC) in the era of the Umbrella organization that led opposition to the white minority government in the 1950s and he served until his death.
“The wheel of progress revolves relentlessly and all the nations of the world take their turn at the field-glass of human density. Africa will not retreat! Africa will not compromise! Africa will not relent! Africa will not equivocate! And she will be heard! Remember Africa” words of the great Robert Sobukwe, known as the founder of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) founder, persuading strong speeches, his solid educational background and leading the non violent disciplined protest that led to the 21 March sharpeville massacre which is known today as Human Rights Day. The reason why I started by quoting this man is because in the apartheid era newspapers/publications weren’t allowed to quote him because of his huge influence in politics, his active resistance and commitments inspired many individuals and organisations that were involved in the anti-apartheid movements such as the Black Consciousness Movement. He was a controversial activist whose ideas prioritised the Black African Race who were oppressed and impoverished.
South African politician, active communist/ South African Communist Party (SACP) member, firm believer in the superior morality of socialism, Trade unionist, Father of former South African president Thabo Mbeki and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki and one of the leading pioneers in the establishment of Umkhonto we Sizwe alongside Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni and so forth. Govan Mbeki was the oldest senior member of the African National Congress, who joined in 1935, he was jailed for “Conspiracy to overthrow the South African government by violence” at the 1963-1964 Rivonia trial and served 24 years in Robben Island alongside his African National Congress affiliates.
The amount of contribution from these black South African icons mentioned above played a significant role in the freedom we enjoy today, we dedicate this Freedom Day to all the fallen soldiers we’ve mentioned above and those we haven’t mentioned. We have to celebrate these heros not only on public holiday but make it a way of life and honour their impact everyday because they sacrificed their everyday life for our present freedom.