Brand South Africa has pledged its support for Lead SA’s initiatives in the run up to the 20th anniversary of democracy. The intention is to build national pride and reflect on where the country has gone over the past two decades.
Along with Brand South Africa, Department of Arts and Culture, Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), and Proudly SA, four initiatives were launched by Lead SA on 20 September on Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Lead SA’s Yusuf Abramjee kicked off proceedings at Soweto’s famous Sakhumzi’s restaurant.
Freedom Friday was the first of the initiatives launched. It is a call on the nation to wear anything that expresses their pride in being South African, every Friday. This includes anything from a jersey of a favourite football or rugby team to traditional wear. In addition to Freedom Friday, Lead SA together its partners will embark on more projects to celebrate South Africa’s heritage as well as 20 years of democracy.
These include 20 Hours of Volunteerism, between the 20 September and Freedom Day on 27 April 2014; Wikipedia Wordathon, to improve South Africa’s digital footprint on the online encyclopaedia; and 20 Memorable Moments, which will retell people’s stories of their most memorable moment in the past two decades.
An excited Miller Matola, the chief executive officer of Brand South Africa, spoke about 20 years being a significant milestone for all citizens. “We must all now participate in driving the future we would like to see for ourselves, our children and the generations of descendants who will come after us,” he said. “Brand South Africa is inspired by the launch of the Freedom Friday initiative. We look forward to working with our partners on this initiative, as well as with all citizens to find new ways to celebrate our democracy, our freedom, our nationhood.”
Matola explained that through the National Development Plan citizens would be able to achieve a better future for all. “We must each of us play our part to make this a better reality.”
He concluded by quoting Nelson Mandela: “Let us never be unmindful of the terrible past from which we come, that memory not as a means to keep us shackled to the past in a negative manner, but rather as a joyous reminder of how far we have come and how much we have achieved.”
Just 218 days remain in the run up to 27 April 2014, the anniversary of the day South Africa officially cast aside centuries of discrimination and oppression to form a new society built on a foundation of freedom and democracy. This change marked the beginning of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Abramjee explained the importance of having the event on Vilakazi Street. “It is a great privilege to be here today as we make history. It is fitting that we gather in Vilakazi Street in Soweto, which enjoys a prominent place in the history of South Africa … We are here today to start a
journey of reflection and celebration as we count down the days to 20 years of democracy. “Some of you may recall every day since the first vote was cast on that day in 1994, and even the days, months and years before, while others were born to a free South Africa. We have a great opportunity to look towards the future with a greater understanding and appreciation of our past.”
The South African story, Abramjee said, was as unique as the people who made up its diverse and vibrant nation. It was a story of great sacrifice and perseverance; it was the stuff of legends.
Among those in attendance were Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula; Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile; Leslie Sedibe, Proudly SA’s chief executive officer; Phumla Williams, GCIS’s acting chief executive officer; struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada; social cohesion advocate Judge Yvonne Mokgoro; and Primedia Broadcasting’s chief executive officer, Terry Volkwyn.