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Freedom Day History

Freedom Day commemorates the first democratic elections that were ever held in South Africa. On 27 April 1994, the results of these elections liberated the nation from the long-standing Apartheid and restored rights to all people in South Africa. On this day, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was elected to govern the new democratic Rainbow Nation. Mandela’s rise to power ushered in a new era of political change in the country.

Freedom Day was first celebrated in 1995 and has since been celebrated annually on 27 April in memory of the day that changed the nation. The day serves to remind South Africans to be thankful for the freedom and rights that each and every citizen now possesses.

Freedom Day Facts & Quotes

  • Of South Africa’s 22.7 million eligible voters, 19.7 million or 87%, voted in the 1994 national election.
  • Nelson Mandela is considered the father of Modern South Africa for the instrumental role that he played in establishing a democracy and ending the oppressive rule of the white minority.
  • One of the first acts that the National Party passed in 1949 at the start of the Apartheid regime was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, which outlawed marriage between people of different races.
  • To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. – Nelson Mandela
  • As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1995, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future. – Nelson Mandela (on the first anniversary of the elections)