leslieEighteen years ago millions of South Africans went to the polls for the very first time, to cast their votes to elect the future representatives of this great nation – that the likes of OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude and many other gallant heroes of our struggle fought for.

 Millions of men and women in townships across the country woke up before sunrise to form long, snaking queues to cast their votes. Those images – captured by photographers in helicopters – were disseminated across the globe and became symbolic of the long and difficult road to freedom for many South Africans. The world looked on with bated breath as international journalists gave eyewitness accounts of South Africa’s first non-racial, democratic and free elections.  

In the run-up to the 1994 elections, some people anticipated disaster. Locally, there were those who stockpiled food and water. International media were even expecting to report on a civil war. But there was no war. There was no disaster.

Many still describe that day as a “modern-day miracle”. However one chooses to describe that momentous day in our country’s history, 27 April 1994 is a day that will be etched in the memories of all South Africans who can remember it.

On 27 April this year, we celebrate Freedom Day for the 18th consecutive year. Let us take the time to reflect on how far we have come as a nation and how much has changed over the years. Let us also celebrate the successes and freedoms we enjoy in 2012.

Interestingly, these freedoms and successes are perfectly captured in a document written up in the early 1950’s. The idea was born in 1952 during the defiance campaign when South Africa’s struggle for freedom reached a new intensity. ZK Matthews, amongst others, of the ANC thought of writing a freedom charter, which would capture the vision for a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa. 

People were requested to contribute ideas and in 1955 the final Charter was approved by thousands of South Africans at Kliptown, near Johannesburg. The document became known as the Freedom Charter. The apartheid government subsequently labelled the document as ‘treacherous’ and over 150 people, including Nelson Mandela, were arrested and tried at the much publicised treason trial.

The court never ruled that the Freedom Charter was indeed ‘treacherous’ but it remained banned until 1990. Today, every South African is free to read it, possess it and live out the principles contained in it.

The Freedom Charter declares that the people shall govern; all national groups shall have equal rights; the people shall share in the country`s wealth; the land shall be shared among those who work it; all shall be equal before the law; all shall enjoy equal human rights; there shall be work and security; the doors of learning and culture shall be opened; there shall be houses, security and comfort and there shall be peace and friendship.

This Freedom Day, take the time to read the Freedom Charter, from which the core principles of our constitution were drawn. A constitution which is seen as one of the most progressive and democratic in the world. A constitution which makes us proud to be South African.

In today’s South Africa, we also enjoy freedom of choice. Each one of us is a consumer – let us all make a concerted effort to choose local products and services whenever we can. By buying local goods and by making use of local services, we can help create jobs. Let us choose to be Proudly South African and support local, whether it be local film, music and theatre – or local clothing, footwear and furniture! The more we buy local, the more there will be a demand for local. This, in turn, will stimulate the economy and provide employment for more South Africans.

It’s as easy as checking labels for the country of origin. Consumers need to know that it is law for all products to have the country of origin on the labelling. Also, consumers can check for products and services which carry the Proudly South African logo. Those which do, comply with top quality standards, environmental standards, local content and fair labour practices.

Step by step, we’re breaking the fallacy that South African goods and services are inferior. By supporting local, we’re not only helping to create jobs. We are also showing pride in what our country can produce. Consumers are also welcome to log onto our website for more information on Proudly South African products and services.

Proudly South African is hard at work to rejuvenate the nation’s pride in buying local. We will continue to lobby for our member companies - and continue to do all we can to support them. We have been doing this through our road show partnership with the Department of Economic Development and other projects with the Department of Trade and Industry. We will continue to keep all our members updated on our latest activities.
Be Proudly South African. Buy Local to Create Jobs.


Adv. Leslie Sedibe

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