The South African Story

The road to 20 years of freedom and democracy has not been an easy one.

But we are a nation of heroes, of strength, of resilience.

We are also a nation blessed with the ability to tell stories.

For this reason, we share stories of a few of your fellow South Africans to document our country’s journey to 20 years of democracy.

explore 20 years

20 Years of Freedom

Freedom of religion, belief and opinion

Human Dignity

Human Dignity

Apartheid was a system of codified injustice that sought to strip the majority of the nation’s citizens of their basic human dignity. Devolving everything to race, the system infiltrated every facet of life, removing free choice, freedom of movement, and freedom of association from everyday life.

It’s difficult to believe, as the Rainbow Nation turns 20, that we were ever so divided a society, and even more amazing to think that those divisions were codified by law and statute. A look back on some of the laws repealed following the end of Apartheid serves as a chilling reminder. The Apartheid Government sought to keep people of different races apart in every way, inserting draconian laws in between people, fostering suspicion and racial prejudice, and thereby ensuring the survival of the system.

Whilst the major laws were evil enough, just as damaging were the hundreds of rules and laws that contributed to “petty apartheid” – the grinding, daily humiliations associated with an unjust system. Just as race was set on a hierarchy, with whites at the top of the pile, and black Africans at the bottom, so too was language and culture. Afrikaans reigned supreme, and proficiency in the language was a requirement for most jobs. Children of all cultures were forced to learn in the language of their oppressors – a fact that led to massive civil unrest in the form of the 1976 SOWETO Uprising.

The Apartheid State inserted itself in the private lives of individuals – deeming illegal love and sex between the races, outlawing interracial marriage. It permeated every aspect of life – removing people’s choices, and as a result their human dignity. The Group Areas Act codified areas where whites and non-whites could live. Whilst there were some enclaves of integration, like District Six and Sophiatown, these were quickly and forcefully removed, as the Apartheid machine cracked down on any dissent. Families were uprooted, and communities destroyed. The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was a particularly humiliating law, aimed at keeping the races separate. It declared separate facilities for whites and non-whites, and unlike the US South, there was not even a pretence at making sure those facilities were equal. People who weren’t white were forced to accept inferior services of every kind – from undignified toilet facilities in public spaces, to beaches on dangerous stretches of coastline, to inferior healthcare and educational facilities. The result was a constant, daily reinforcement of the notion that some groups were more worthy than others. To ensure government had a handle on who was who, the Population Registration Act was passed, categorising every citizen to a particular race group. This came along with undignified and downright Fascist ways of deciding who was white and who wasn’t – the pencil test was just one such example.

When South Africa’s constitution was in the making, it was human rights and human dignity that stood foremost in the minds of the drafters. They focussed on enshrining freedom for all South Africans, no matter their race, religion or the circumstances of their birth. In that way, the constitution reverses and redresses the wrongs of Apartheid, and casts in stone a kinder and fairer nation, where no-one can be prejudiced under the law for a mere accident of birth.

However, codifying the changes is not the end of the story. The legacy of Apartheid lives on in under -resourced schools, healthcare facilities and in the grinding poverty experienced by so many South Africans. Human dignity is linked with material factors as much as it is with equality and fairness under the law. As long as the after effects of a cruel, humiliating and unjust system are still felt in fundamental and material ways, human dignity will remain a lofty ideal, rather than a concrete reality.

By Charlotte Kilbane

Group Areas Act

Crossing the Road

Crossing the Road

As journeys go, the one I am about to describe is among the shortest you could imagine.

It is, in a sense, so easily undertaken that the journey itself, the distance covered, might be over before you even realised you'd started out.

Yet, crossing Vanguard Drive turns out to be an almost unheard of, a nearly epic, venture, as if, standing at the kerb on one side you had reached the end of the known world, and, 15 metres away across the tar, was another that had only ever existed in your imagination.

It is only a matter of getting over four traffic lanes, but the distance between Bonteheuwel and Langa is measurable not in paces, but habits, mistrust, a geography of disaffection, a history of ignorance. Between the two, the departure and the arrival, is the whole of our distinctly South African mythology of alienation and suspicion, envy, anxiety and isolation.

It is not true of the nation state; we are common citizens, co-workers, equals before the law, equivalent in our rights. We share a flag, an anthem and a parliament we have collectively chosen to direct a state that serves us all. We might even vote for the same party.

But where we live and dream our dreams are places that can be worlds apart. That's how it was once meant to be. And, in 2014, for many of us, that's how it still is. It's what we might even think of as knowing our place and keeping to it.

It is a Wednesday morning when we set out on our mission to find two 'neighbours', one from Langa and the other from Bonteheuwel, who might be willing to cross the road to unfamiliar territory and briefly explore each other's worlds.

Langa I am familiar with, as I have visited the area several times, and the people there speak isiXhosa, a language that is closely related to my isiZulu.

On the other hand, although I have been to Bonteheuwel only once, my mind teems with the many stories I have heard of notorious gangs running rampage in the streets, day and night. I am not looking forward to walking blind around the community looking for that one person who is willing to take up our challenge.

But we are committed.

Our journey begins at the bottom of the Vanguard Drive footbridge that links the two communities. It is a busy area as there is a clinic nearby, which the communities share. Although the streets are neat, I have an impression of unkemptness and perhaps something forlorn - the flats and houses look rundown, the paintwork faded or peeling, and there's no greenery, no trees or gardens - as if the area has been abandoned and left to deteriorate.

Groups of people hanging out on the street corners look us over suspiciously as if they can tell we are intruders.

A brief conversation with an elderly woman, who tells us how disturbed she is that gangsters are using children as drug runners, fuels my anxiety.

We decide to retrace our steps and head over the road to Langa, and make a start there, where at least there's no prospect of being hit by a stray bullet.

Kosovo in Langa is your typical informal settlement.

Corrugated iron shacks are squeezed hard up against one another, some leaning over as if they are about to topple. The paths between the shacks are narrow and dusty, or muddy where there's water.

This is where we find 35-year-old Celia Gelem, sitting in her living room, doing her washing - and with her door open, as if she's expecting us. She greets us uncertainly and we hastily introduce ourselves, explaining what we have in mind. It's clear she is sceptical.

Her English is not that good, but as we chat in mixture of isiXhosa and English, we begin to learn something of her life and of how she views her world view.

Gelem's shares her T40 shack with her two-year old son, Sinovuyo and her boyfriend. The shack is divided into two rooms; her living room doubles as bedroom and kitchen, furnished with a single bed, a fridge, stove and a room divider with a TV, microwave and a radio that is turned up so high we sometimes battle to hear her soft voice.

She has been unemployed for the past four years. Gelem, dressed in a long black-and-white checked skirt and black jersey set off with a floral headscarf, has an infectious laugh that puts me at ease, and I feel confident enough to direct the conversation towards our objective.

When I casually ask if she'd move to Bonteheuwel if she was given a house there, Gelem is resolute.

“I will not take it,” she says. “They are not my race; I won't be able to talk their language. I would rather live in my shack.”

It turns out she's not unfamiliar with Bonteheuwel residents: “They come here to sell clothes. We buy from them.” But she admits: “We don't really talk with them.”

The idea of visiting Bonteheuwel seems incomprehensible to her - if only because she has been robbed there.

“Why should I visit? It's a coloured area,” she explains. ”And I was robbed. I'm scared to walk in that area.”

She has been robbed more than once after getting off the train at Bonteheuwel station.

In case there's any mistaking her fears, she mentions the gunshots at night “over there”. After a pause she decides: “Langa is much safer than Bonteheuwel.”

It’s no surprise that Gelem flatly refuses to join us on any journey to Bonteheuwel. But there's still hope. With some persuasion, we reach a compromise; she'll wait until we find a match across the road. If we can.

And we do.

On the other side of Vanguard Drive, Barbara Meyer's house stands behind a high vibracrete wall. Two big dogs bark at us as we peer over the wall to see if anyone is home.

Meyer, 45, comes out to see what the fuss is about, her black skirt and white t-shirt partly hidden by a baby trussed against her belly, covered by a blanket.

She is wary and not sure of our intentions, but invites us in all the same.

The smell of cooking oil hangs in the air. Meyer's daughter, also with a baby wrapped against her stomach (the twin babies are Meyer’s two-month-old grandchildren) is chopping potatoes at the kitchen counter. Her sitting room is small and simply furnished, with two couches, a room divider and framed pictures; a variety of family portraits and one of a sailing ship.

There's a dispiriting resistance, initially anyway, when we broach the subject of “Langa”. Having devoted her life to the Lord appears to have something to do with it.

“I used to go there to sell clothes or catch a taxi. Now that I have turned to the Lord I don't go there,” Meyer explains. “Not that there’s any racial tension between us,” she adds.

Her perception of Langa, uncannily similar to Gelem's of Bonteheuwel, is shadowed by fear of crime.

“I was robbed there so I don't go anymore,” she says.

Yet, when we mention Gelem, it's obvious Meyer is curious - she confides she's never been inside a shack before - and warms to the idea of meeting Gelem.

And so it is arranged, after a fashion. We are not sure what to expect.

The two women meet for the first time at the traffic lights at a busy Vanguard Drive intersection, on the Bonteheuwel side. Both are hesitant as we introduce them.

Murmured “hellos” are all but drowned out by the traffic noise. Meyer gets the conversation going by asking about Gelem's house, and Gelem points towards her shack. As they walk these first steps together, their conversation revolves around the one thing they share: the experience of being robbed.

We reach Gelem's shack. Meyer is not visibly taken back by her first glimpse of the crammed interior.

She is soon sitting on the single bed facing Gelem as they chat about their families, the election, poverty in both communities, and the differences between them.

“I've seen shacks but I have never been inside,” Meyer says. “It’s not right you should live like this. The government should build more houses.”

Her comment earns a brief, warm smile from Gelem, who reveals she's never voted in her life, and won't [this year] either.

“I have no reason to vote,” she says. “I see no change here, we still have no electricity and many are living in poverty.”

Meyer, on the other hand, is an enthusiastic democrat who's not missed a single poll since 1994.

“I vote and hope for the best,” she says. “If I don't vote it's a vote less.”

Both women are supported by their partners, and share this common understanding of the challenges of relying on a single salary.

Meyer ventures a view of the perceptions of Langa from Bonteheuwel.

“There was a story going around that a black guy stabbed a coloured girl in the face and robbed her. It makes people scared of Langa,” she says.

Not that the communities are unfamiliar with each other. “Xhosa people who have moved into our area and nobody bothers them,” she says. Even so, there’s little intermingling: “My children have friends from school who are from there… but they don't visit.”

We leave the shack, the women walking along - each holding a glass of Coke, Gelem's son Sinovuyo between them - like two friends catching up. You could not have guessed they were strangers not so long ago.

We stop at a rank of portable toilets, six or seven lined up in the open, which Gelem shares with hundreds in the area. The toilets doors are wide open.

“This toilet is not right,” Gelem declares. “There are many germs here that make the children sick.”

Meyer is appalled at the smell. “They stink and are so dirty. I don't think it's right that people have to use them.”

Navigating through the shacks, we come to a stream of muddy water; Gelem and others get their drinking water from a hose there.

“Seeing what other people are going through has opened my eyes,” Meyer tells us. “I see them walking on the streets but I don't really know what they are going through. We live in different worlds.”

It's time to go to Bonteheuwel now. On the way, Gelem says she’s grateful Meyer doesn’t look down on her for the conditions in Kosovo.

“I'm sure in her heart she wants us to live like her,” she says.

At Meyer's house, we head straight for the bathroom. It is a marvel to Gelem.

“I wish I had a house like this with a toilet inside, and safe from fires.”

The bathroom, painted in the same shades of brown as Meyer’s sitting room, has a bathtub, a shower and a toilet – although Meyer doesn’t have a geyser and has to boil water in a kettle.

The women hug lightly and say goodbye at Meyer's gate, promising to visit each other again, perhaps for a longer visit, and lunch on amangwinya (vetkoek), which they’ve discovered they both like.

Their impressions of each other are generous.

“At first we didn't understand each other's language,” Meyer says, “but I like her. She gave me a smile.”

Gelem remembers Meyer’s smile too. “She seems like a nice person. She smiled when I met her.”

Gelem concludes: “I don't see her as a white person anymore; I realise we are equal.”

Gelem and Meyer’s journey is over in less than an hour.

Whether these two women, who share so much yet see their worlds in such distinctly contrasting ways, will ever actually visit each other I can't say, but I am certain that should they meet again on busy Vanguard Drive they'll meet familiarly, as equals. All it took was for them to cross that road, sit together for a while, and share their stories.

And that's quite something.

- First published in the Cape Argus.

Words By Nontando Mposo, Pictures by Cindy WaxaNontando MposoCindy Waxa

Struggle veteran revives reclaimed land

Struggle veteran revives reclaimed land

After being exiled for 36 years, liberation struggle veteran Philip Kgosana returned home to Winterveldt in 1996 a disappointed man.

“I was very saddened because despite my absence, little had been done to improve the area,” says Kgosana.

After returning from exile at the age of 60, Kgosana was not reintegrated into the armed forces because of his age.

So, he decided to revive the plot of land he had inherited.

Winterveldt, an agricultural region in Gauteng, bore the scars of neglect and a lack of support from the apartheid government.

In the past 20 years though, the region has developed into a highly productive agricultural space.

“There was a lack of basic knowledge of agriculture, and a lack of basic capital because the area was not getting funds from the government,” Kgosana says.

Kgosana is one of the people who piloted a project which will ensure successful long-term agriculture in Winterveldt.

Beginning in 2002, the region now has 65 000 orange trees.

Personally, Kgosana has 1 200 orange trees on his own farm.

Kgosana says that Winterveldt is an example not only for those who have reclaimed land, but that one does not need to be a fulltime farmer to be successful in the agricultural sector.

“Whether you are an accountant, you can produce a garden,” he says.

Winterveldt has also established an agricultural school for boys and girls who have passed matric to bide their time until they have found jobs.

Expanding from planting orange trees, an annual crop, the region has also ventured on more short-term crops.

Kgosana‘s message is for people who have reclaimed land to make effective use of it, and to remember the treasure they have. “Food comes from the soil, not from the supermarket,” he says.

By Litha MpondwanaLitha Mpondwana

District Six: Suleiman Christian's Story

Take a walk on a barren hillside in Cape Town where granite curb stones hidden in the grass hint at a once bustling community. See District Six through the eyes of former resident Suleiman Christian.

By Aletta GardnerAletta Gardner

Reservation of Separate Amenities

Reservation of Separate Amenities

Reservation of Separate Amenities

The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act codified the racial segregation of all public space, vehicles and services, with the exception of public roads and streets. It was one of the ways the architects of Apartheid sought to create separate social environments for the various population groups. By segregating social and leisure areas, the chance of any relaxed or meaningful interaction between groups was virtually eliminated.

Before the law’s promulgation, as early as 1948, 'Whites Only' or 'Blankes Alleen' notices had started appearing. The segregation was pervasive – covering everything from taxis to toilets to elevators and hearses.

Whilst the segregation itself was a cruel enough, section 3b of the Act made it clear that facilities for different races did not need to be equal. That meant that facilities reserved for use by white people were inevitably better than those reserved for everybody else.

Another part of the Act made it legal to completely exclude people from accessing facilities based on nothing more than their race. Municipalities used the law to demarcate areas within suburbs and CBDs, where people who were not white, were simply not allowed. If people who weren’t white defied the laws, or sought to use public spaces reserved for whites only, they were removed – often forcibly.

The Apartheid government was able to section off some of the most beautiful and tranquil urban spaces, and deem them accessible only to whites. One of the famous exceptions was the parkland around Johannesburg’s Zoo Lake. The Land was acquired under Deed of Gift, and the rules attached to the acqusisition did not allow for any kind of segregation. Consequently, Zoo lake was one of the few public spaces that was always open to all races.

But it wasn’t just social spaces that were affected – vital facilities like hospitals and clinics were segregated too. Those institutions reserved for whites were well equipped and staffed, offering excellent standards of care. Those reserved for blacks, coloureds and Indians were poorly equipped and understaffed, and those in need of care were forced to wait in long queues to be seen.

Similar problems existed in the education system, with white schools enjoying higher standards of education, staffing and equipment. The Act was one of many, aimed at removing Human Dignity, and subjugating the majority of the nation’s citizens. By segregating social areas, it was easy to perpetuate racist myths, because the majority of the population would never get to interact, form common bonds of humanity, and even cross cultural and racial friendships. The Act was just another way of cementing the mistrust and misunderstanding that was vital to Apartheid’s survival.

The Separate Amenities Act was repealed in 1990, as part of a package of reforms following the unbanning of the ANC and pother liberation movements in the landmark February 2nd speech.

By Charlotte KilbaneCharlotte Kilbane

Mixed Marriages

Our experience of being a mixed race couple

Our experience of being a “mixed race” couple

It was with bittersweet nostalgia that Adri and Ezriel Naidoo recounted their experiences of being in an interracial relationship during apartheid.

They had fallen in love shortly after meeting at an illegal drag race.

This secret get-together of multicultural mavericks under the cloak of a shared love for cars brought together two people, one from a staunch Afrikaans background, the other of Indian heritage, who’d otherwise never have met.

Both knew the road ahead would be unimaginably challenging and at the time, the possibility of a peaceful abolishment of Apartheid still seemed an unattainable dream.

“We never had any support from family or friends. I actually lost all of my family in the process. Nobody agreed with it. We even had churches coming to us telling us that it’s against the belief,” remembers Adri.

Adri’s father disowned her and her family shunned her.

They refused to accept the relationship.

The broader community also didn’t take too kindly to their union.

Ezriel remembers one particularly horrific event where their lives were threatened for the simple act of shopping together.

“As we walked out of the shopping centre, three white guys were standing at the door. As we walked past, they made a comment. So I turned back and asked him ‘what did you say?’ He said he just wanted to tell me how pretty I looked. At the same time, he put his hand behind his back and pulled a gun”.

Luckily an ex-police officer was nearby to come to their rescue… were it a few seconds later, this story could’ve had a completely different ending.

After apartheid had come to an end, the Naidoos were finally able to get married.

They had two beautiful daughters, Kershia and Camilee, and later adopted a son, Keegan.

The last 20 years of freedom for the Naidoos have been a journey of building forgiveness for the past in order to move forward.

Today, Adri speaks fondly of the many things she now takes for granted.

“My kids excelled in Afrikaans at school… our little boy is so good in maths, he can one day even become an engineer!”

For Ezra, his gratitude is sprung from the fact that his family can now walk the streets of Newcastle in KwaZulu Natal freely and with whomever they want.

Perhaps the fondest memory of the past 20 years of freedom is that in the end, Adri’s father accepted and grew to love her husband and children shortly before his death a few years ago.

By Landi GronewaldLandi Gronewald

Population Registration Act

Population Registration Act

White Man’s Bread

“When I lost my fear, I started developing a capacity for compassion. This is what we need to do in South Africa because we still operate from our fears. Once we take the ‘otherness’ away, we can then start looking for solutions together”.

56-year-old Stanley Henkeman grew up in Bonteheuwel, a township on the Cape Flats, before moving to Silvertown at seven-years-old to live with his mother.

Stanley, along with the rest of his family, were classified “Coloured” under the Population Registration Act which registered all into four distinct race groups, “othering” South Africans.

“Growing up with my grandmother in Bonteheuwel was very insular. It was and still is a coloured community, so the things you see, that is your world and ours consisted of brown bread,” said Stanley.

“Our neighbour worked at an office block as a cleaner. She would clean up the canteen and bring home the bread that was left behind.”

“So when Mrs Agulhas came down the street, all the kids would run towards her because we knew we were going to benefit from all these sandwiches which had the most amazing things on them – cheese, polony… funny things,” said Stanley.

“So, white man’s bread always had wonderful things on it, things that I never had. You kind of grow up – and it is not conscious – knowing that there is another world out there, a world that can buy things that you can’t even think of.”

“Then, as a student, I was reintroduced to rye bread,” said Stanely, who heads up Building an Inclusive Society at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

“The interesting thing is that I started developing a liking for this bread and now, I buy rye bread”.

“Growing up, it – the bread and the white man - was the ‘other’. When I embraced it for myself, the mystique, the fear was out of it,” he said.

“I think that story, and many other stories, is that of my development in South Africa that, when I lose my fear of something, I create space for something else like compassion and understanding.”

“That journey is important, where you move from seeing something as the ‘other’ – a world that you do not know, are not interested in, or will never get in to – to a point where you demystify it,” said Stanley.

“I think that is what needs to happen in the new South Africa… we are still mysteries to each other and really, bread is just bread”.

By Carla BernardoCarla Bernardo

Suppression of Communism

Suppression of Communism

How I gained freedom from war and worry about communism

I grew up knowing that, one day, just like my dad, I’ll go to war against “the communists” amassing on South Africa’s borders.

I didn’t really understand what communism was or who “the communists” were. The word was kicked around readily and loosely. All I knew was “they” were the terrorists and that “we” were the good guys fighting them.

As a young boy, a large part of my world was geared around what I was told, and believed, was a noble and seemingly endless battle against a presumed Soviet onslaught.

The arguments weren’t sophisticated. “They” were after our minerals. “They” were going to destroy religion and take away all private property. “They” were going to put the ANC in power and kill all the white people.

The encroachment of communism had to be stopped. There was a war and I was going to be in it.

“Liewe Here, wees met die mense agter die Ystergordyn…”

From Grade 1 every single school day started with our principal leading a prayer for the poor souls languishing behind the Iron Curtain. I was a child; it never occurred to me to pray for the majority of my compatriots that had it far worse (and weren’t they on the commies’ side anyway?).

Ystergordyn… It sounded impregnable and terrifying. It was a place you could not escape from. It was a place of great suffering and deprivation. It was a place which offered a glimpse into South Africa’s future. But they’d have to get through “our men” first. And one day they’d have to get through me…

“Wees met die manne op Die Grens sodat hulle nie net op hul gewere sal staatmaak nie, maar ook op U.”

The prayer always ended in exactly the same way, asking God to be with our men on The Border, to have them trust in Him and not only their weaponry.

In my mind, “The War” was inextricably linked with the fight against communism, and I was being primed for “The Army” of which I was inescapably going to be part of one day.

Army representatives would visit our school every year and, by the time I was 12, I knew how to march and bark out orders. I knew how to shoot a gun and had taken multiple trips in infantry vehicles like Casspirs and Ratels. These visits were invariably the highlight of my year.

Then something wonderful happened, although at the time I didn’t realise how wonderful. The Iron Curtain came down and the USSR fell. South Africa, too, was hurtling along a path few in my world anticipated. The War ended. I was spared a fight to the death I grew up believing I would one day take part in.

By Kabous le RouxKabous le Roux

The struggle in suburbia

South Africans all know about the anti-apartheid struggle and are familiar with it being fought in the townships. But what about the struggle in the suburbs. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy, we delve further into this struggle.

By Vumani MkhizeVumani Mkhize

Freedom of religion, belief and opinion

Freedom of religion, belief and opinion

Religion and their role in a democratic South Africa

Spirituality and religion are an integral part of South Africa, in its history and present. Today, South Africa recognizes freedom of beliefs.

Although there have been many challenges to counter the freedom South Africa has enjoyed in the past 20 years, some of the country’s religious and spiritual groups have welcomed the more open and critical role they play in democratic South Africa.

Islam

Professor Farid Esack, Muslim liberation theologian, Head of Religious Studies Department at University of Johannesburg

A much more prominent role has been given to religion in the country today. People are much more inclined to celebrate their faith in public. An example in Islam is the participation in Parliament, and the President's inauguration.

Muslims have found a greater expression of their religion in the country - in law and in the community. You can see this through the proliferation of Muslim radio stations, of schools, and the coming of Muslims to the country as tourists.

Methodist

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, President of the South African Council of Churches and Presiding Bishop in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

The message of the church is always the same. It is the message of hope, healing and transformation. Before 1994 the giant the collective church sought to slay was apartheid and denial of dignity to the majority of the population in South Africa.

Post-1994 we celebrate the transition to democracy but are also aware of the glaring challenges that we face as a people. It is the context of a people who were at war with each other learning to live together. The church is called upon today to be faithful to God, work for healing, accompany the vulnerable and speak truth to power in helping the voiceless to find their voice.

NG Kerk

Dr Braam Hanekom, Synod Minister in the NG Kerk

I firmly believe that religion plays a stabilising role, bringing people together, and bringing love and reconciliation and encouraging people.

In the past 20 years, South Africa has gone from a religious state to a secular state. The NG Kerk is proud to play a role in this. Religion in South Africa does not have a privileged position, it has a protected position. The church is now more independent than before.

Traditional leadership

Setlamorago Thobejane, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa)

We have seen a complete transformation in the role of traditional leadership in the past 20 years. Traditional leadership has redefined itself to play a critical role in allocating land to people. We are also leading communities in commanding service delivery.

Despite this, we still have a long way to go. The restoration of our cultures has been washed away by the reconstruction of cultures which govern us.

Judaism

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

The occasion of the twentieth anniversary of freedom and democracy in South Africa is an opportunity to step back from the fray of day-to-day politics and life, and to appreciate the twenty-year journey of South Africa and where we have come from; to appreciate that the country has embarked on a journey from the tyranny of apartheid where human rights were routinely abused, to a new dispensation where institutions of freedom and democracy are well established in South Africa. Let us step back and appreciate and thank G-d for the miracles that allowed South Africa to become a free and vibrant democracy.

The Jewish community joins our fellow South Africans in rededicating ourselves to contributing towards achieving the glorious goals and values of the moral vision of our Constitution and of the founding fathers and mothers of our great country.

May G-d continue to bless our beautiful country.

By Litha MpondwanaLitha Mpondwana

Language and culture

SA's Story in 12 Languages

By Renee de Villiers and Carla BernardoRenee de VilliersCarla Bernardo

Equality

#freedommeans