Creative Writing. Poetry. Opinion.


Freedom Day

The Power of the Public Holiday

South Africans are a funny bunch.  The one thing we love desperately…is a public holiday.  Especially if there is a long weekend involved.  The shops are packed.  The streets are full.  The braai is on.  It just gets crazier around month-end, I swear.  We have so many public holidays.  We celebrate, yes…But do we ever commemorate?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why my life turned out the way it has.  I’ve been asking Mumsy endless questions about her decisions made in raising my sister and myself the way she did.  Looking at the significance of days like Freedom Day, Youth Day, Heritage Day and Human Rights Day.  Today we celebrate Workers’ Day (generally referred to as May Day by older folk).  Do we know the history behind it?

January 2nd was historically celebrated as Tweede Nuwe Jaar.  Our government might’ve scrapped it but to me it’s a day which still holds relevance in the Cape.  Lest we forget that many of us are the descendants of slaves.  I would vote to bring it back.  Not to have another public holiday, but to have a day of commemoration for traditions of our earliest past.  The history of South Africa did not start in the 1960’s.  We have a very rich history.  Slavery was a part thereof…As were the Voortrekkers.

What is it we teach children today about our heritage as a nation? What is the portrait we’re wanting to paint?  Perhaps we should educate ourselves on the history of all our public holidays and try to commemorate accordingly.  Morbidity not intended.  I’m referring to the educational value that we might be losing in the process of getting our braai on.  Why not have a discussion around the fire.  One never knows what one might learn from others and what those days might mean to those around us.

Just a thought.


Freedom in Bondage

Freedom, in my mind, is being unshackled by slavery.   Being unfettered by limitation.  Deliverance and emancipation from oppression.

South Africa is deemed free as a nation.  But are we truly free?

We have children running wild.  Waving guns.  Starved.  Lost.  We have adults who are embittered by the past, unwilling to let go of that which they hold within.  Anger.  Hatred.   We have this generation of lost souls wondering where they truly belong.  Born in the past…Living in the here and now…Looking to the future.

With all that we see in the news with brother killing brother how can we celebrate?  How do we turn a blind eye to our current state of affairs?  How do we build from where we are now?

Democracy has now reached it’s majority.  After twenty-one years…we now need to grow up.  We need to think like an adult.  A responsible, reasoning and forward-thinking adult.  We need to consider the generations to come and decide if we really want to allow the bitterness we have to fester and poison our intended legacy.

Soon must come the day
When the righteous have their way
Unjustly tried are free
And people live in peace I say
Give the man release
Go on and set your conscience free
Right the wrongs you made
Even a fool can have his day

– Freedom Now, Tracy Chapman

Freedom is personal.  Freedom is universal.  For us to be truly free we need to unshackle our minds of past beliefs and learn to live in harmony.  We need to learn to love across culture and creed.  Freedom comes as a result of change.  Change comes through the renewal of one’s mind.

Those who have gone before us fought for our freedom as a people.  Their acts were selfless.  They sacrificed their lives so that we may enjoy those freedoms some of them lost their lives to obtain, today.  Yet we are imprisoned.  Enslaved.  Chained because we do not let go of bitterness and hatred (some of us unjustifiably so).

Now is the time for change.  In fact, it is way past time.  Now is the time to unite.  Freedom came at a hefty price.  Let’s appreciate it.  I will work for freedom and stretch my mind toward unity.  Who will join me?


©Shelley Smidt-Booys 2015

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