Freedom 25: our democracy is ...


As South Africa celebrates 25 years of freedom, Weekend Post reporters Michael Kimberley, Hendrick Mphande and Nomazima Nkosi spoke to Nelson Mandela Bay residents about what our democracy means to them
Ncedo Mekani, 38, of KwaMagxaki
We have seen a lot of changes in SA. People have free houses and free education, there are jobs. A lot of change has happened everywhere. I never had a job but I’m working today due to freedom. I have a job and can provide for my family. A lot has changed.
Alicia Machaba, 27, of Uitenhage
There is not much freedom these days. For me, as the youth of South Africa, I have nothing. What is freedom?
Noloyisa Hlela, 55, of New Brighton
Democracy is my freedom. It is very nice, but for me at my age I am not working anymore. I am struggling with my family. For people with higher positions there might be freedom. I am not feeling well in this democracy. Nothing benefits me. I am not working. Even the councillors, they don’t care for us.
Frans Daniels, 55, of Somerset East
We mix together. We send our children to the same schools. There is no apartheid. You can see the change. I am happy to see the change. I am free; I can go where I want. I am free to talk. I enjoy my culture and myself on Freedom Day. There are many problems but it is not big issues. We can go forward on these issues.
Kolekile Boqwana, 49, of Kwazakhele
There is freedom of expression, freedom to engage. Everyone is able to talk free. There are equal rights. Young children are at a school. We used to struggle in this country for free education but many are now at university. Social housing is happening. A lot of shacks erupted but the government of today was able to add comfort and housing. Where there were gravel roads most now are tarred. Things are happening.
Andile Makhonda, 31, of Kwazakhele
The change I have seen is little. Yes, people get houses, electricity, water, sanitation, education, but what affects us is unemployment. Our democracy has not worked for us as the youth of the country.
Tim Kramer, 60, North End
For the [past] 25 years nothing has happened, so Freedom Day is not the issue. The gangsterism just gets worse. They are not afraid of the law. Maybe on Freedom Day there will be more shootings. The law can’t do anything because of the laws put in place. The gangsters are freer than the people.
Brendan Cornelius, 43, of Bethelsdorp
The only thing that changed is that blacks and whites can use the same toilet. I am not interested or excited about Freedom Day. Things are worse. Petrol is sky high and for food we are paying a lot more money. I don’t know where we are heading to.
Marvin Derrocks, 34, of Parsons Hill
It has given me a sense of integration, which is something that would not have existed prior. If I think of my career, I would not have had a job without democracy. But these have now been broken. There is some work to be done for better integration for our children.
Grant Foong, 54, Morningside
Democracy is the ability to make an informed decision with as much information that is out there as possible. It’s hugely important and with the fortunate position we are in we have a lot of information available via Google and the internet, so we’re not restricted in terms of the information that is available to us and have no excuses but to make informed decisions.
Jacques Theron, 34, of Port Elizabeth
To have the opportunity to have a voice and the opportunity to be listened to. It sounds like the same thing, but if I hear the word democracy it is to be able to voice an opinion and to know it is listened to. If you have an opinion and nobody listens, it is not democracy.
Neil Kemp, 37, Lovemore Heights
Democracy to me means everybody in a country with fair democracy has fair opportunity – and not one-sided opportunities. We are hoping that after this election we can get that in South Africa. I don’t think it is fair that there should be a tick box of race on applications for a job, school or higher education. I agree that not everyone has the funds or the ability to get there on their own and I agree with what the government is doing with the previously disadvantaged, but I don’t agree with the fact that based on your race you get better opportunities or better points through schools. If everyone can get the same opportunity in South Africa – being the rainbow nation – that is what it means. We should have a fair chance at something and hopefully that will change after the elections if we vote and a stronger or different party comes into power.
Naz and Clinton Victor, 35, of Mill Park
Democracy means expressing the will of the majority of the people through its government. [As an interracial couple] we get to be with each other and that is free will and it’s because of democracy. But we also do not think of each other in racial terms because we did not fall in love with each other because the other one is white and the other is Indian. If we had fallen in love maybe 30 years ago, we suppose it would have been an inconvenience that it was not allowed.

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