NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Bemoaning 20 years of unrecognised humanity

2 May 2014, Posted in NUMSA News

South Africans celebrated Freedom Day on the 27 April. We commemorate the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994 in which the franchise did not depend upon race. For political parties, this day was used to campaign and mobilised for support for the upcoming national elections.

For me, I was reminded that it was on this fateful day in 1994 that heroes and heroines paid the ultimate price for my freedom. Freedom means the ability to be able to choose what I want in my life, knowing I am not stuck in any situation and have the power to create the circumstances in my life.

But what does freedom means to the working class? I decided to ask random people in my area what the word “freedom” means to them.  Here are their answers:
1 – It means that you can have your own opinion and that you can share that opinion with other people even if they don’t agree with you. For these reasons, and a whole lot more, freedom is a very important thing to have in your life.

2- If we didn’t have freedom some of us would still be slave for white people. Sometimes we take freedom for granted and don’t think of all the little things that we get to enjoy because we are free. When you stop and think about how different life would be without it, it makes you very thankful to live here and enjoy the promise of freedom.

3 – We didn’t have a word for freedom because we didn’t know what it was NOT to be free, it didn’t exist as a concept for us because it’s absence didn’t exist for us. We didn’t have a word for time, either.

4 – Economic freedom is of paramount importance to me. The very few who control the economy oppresses us. There is nothing to celebrate here we need to be part of the economic processes.

5 – Political freedom is key. The freedom charter says: the people shall govern. But the ANC doesn’t consider people. There is no participatory democracy. We are not recognised as human beings. We are not free.

6 – We sell our labour for meagre income in order to survive. Do you call that freedom? We are being treated like animals at workplaces. There is nothing free about this.

7– This freedom is conditional.  If you are always working for a boss, you don’t have freedom either. Now we always worry about how we’ll pay our next bill or whether we’ll have a roof over our heads.

8 – To me freedom is that we don’t have to worry about the roads, land, etc. I have freedom to protest, to speak out, but fundamentally I don’t have freedom to change policy.  And the policies of this country are becoming more and more, it isn’t just right-wing, but it is more and more about corporate power. Freedom is that collectively we have a voice and can make a change.  And it’s a change we don’t know what it is going to look like, and it might not be a straight line.

9 – Freedom means being able to question the government, like being able to speak our minds and not get arrested or shot at by police.  Just because it’s a mass group of people doesn’t mean it’s harmful or dangerous. Freedom also means that we can be able to be heard by our government, because they are supposed to be here for us.

Please consider submitting written articles on issues that matter to you to Numsa News at (sandreh@numsa.org.za).

Happy reading!