It’s been 20 years since South Africans of all races voted in the country’s first democratic election. We’ve come a long way since then; and owe our hard-won freedom to the sacrifices of the few, for the many.

Nelson Mandela said, “There is no easy road to freedom”, and on Freedom Day, 27 April, we celebrate a defining moment in South Africa’s history – 20 years of freedom. After a turbulent, agitated past, the Rainbow Nation has faced and overcome many challenges.

Freedom Day marks the day South Africans voted in the country’s first democratic elections; subsequently, Nelson Mandela became the country’s first democratic president. This was after a lengthy battle, a hard fight, with many lives lost, many exiled, many tortured, many families separated, and many lives destroyed. The story of apartheid’s demise is peppered with tales of courage, determination and sacrifice.

On that day in 1994, almost 20 million South Africans queued to vote in the country’s first free and democratic elections. It was the first non-racial election to take place in South Africa, finally setting its citizens free from colonialism.

This Freedom Day is an opportunity for the country to remember and celebrate struggle icons and honour those who continue to be committed to transformation and to building a better life for every South African. It is a day to create awareness, that regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, freedom and human rights are for all human beings.

This day reaffirms our freedom and ensures that the violation of such rights never occurs again. As South Africans we need to steadfastly continue to eradicate the legacy of racism in our country. We can make a difference, together, as a nation, on South African soil.