South Africa, Freedom Day, Nelson Mandela

South Africa Celebrates 30th Freedom Day Anniversary

South Africa's Freedom Day is a celebration of the end of the apartheid that oppressed Black voters in their own country for years.

April 27 marks South Africa’s 30th anniversary of “Freedom Day” when the country celebrates the day of its very first true democratic election in 1994. The election was the official end of the racial segregation and oppression of standing apartheid.

According to NPR, the monumental vote was the first time millions of Black South Africans of all different ages could vote, after being denied their intrinsic right for years before by the white minority government.

The 30th annual Freedom Day celebrations will be led by current South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a protege of Nelson Mandela. It will take place in Pretoria, at the Union Buildings. 

The very first all-race election in South Africa saw the African National Congress (ANC) party win the country back, and its leader, Nelson Mandela, became the country’s first Black president just four years after he was released from prison. 

The 1994 election brought Mandela, who was acting as the face of the anti-apartheid movement, to the forefront. The turnout to support him in the election was so large that it spanned four days to accommodate the humongous voter turnout.  

The transition to democracy brought nearly 20 million South Africans of all races to cast their vote. This was an extreme turnout compared to the 3 million white people who voted in the last general election under the 1989 apartheid.

The ANC’s election victory dismantled the apartheid and allowed the party to create a new constitution. It became South Africa’s highest law, and it guaranteed equality to everyone—regardless of their race, religion, or sexuality.

Despite this move, South Africa still has deep-rooted socio-economic problems in 2024. Poverty affects the Black majority of the country, which has an “unemployment rate [of] 32%, the highest in the world, while it’s more than 60% for young people aged 15 to 24.”

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