Freedom Day. A day where our country made a change for the better in 1994. It has been my favourite public holiday for as long as I can remember.

So, what does freedom mean to me? There are many reasons why I am so appreciative to celebrate a holiday like this, writes Cape {Town} Etc’s, Leigh-Ann Londt.

Being born in an era where apartheid was a notion of the past, I never forget to count my blessings. Even despite being taught history in high school, I still felt that I was not completely satisfied with my knowledge around the subject. That is until a few years ago when Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom came out in Cinema’s.

I’d always had an idea of how brutal apartheid was, but there was never a full understanding – until I saw it play out on screen. In my eyes, and according to my generation, we are a Rainbow Nation. I didn’t understand the battle that went on to achieve this. Once the movie ended, the entire cinema clapped their hands. It was a pivotal moment for me. A penny dropping of sorts. I walked away from the experience as a different person.

Kudos for brilliant cinematography. When done well, it has the ability to change lives.

I thank Mr Mandela for what he did for our country. Before his fight for freedom, not everyone could be who they wanted to be. Women stayed home, cooked and looked after their kids, men went to work, and each person was judged and categorised according to the colours of their flesh.

This made me appreciate the freedom I possess as a young South African woman today. I can be myself without thinking twice. The film made me reflect on who I am, the blessings I have, and how fortunate I am to be where I am today. I am blessed with food, clothes, education, family. Things many don’t have.

So, in essence, being free to me is being able to be myself, as well as being able to give back to those who remain in the shadows of apartheid. Giving back is important to me. It’s something I make an effort to do often – whether it be feeding someone in need or passing on an item of clothing. Freedom Day is another reminder of why I love to do this, why I should continue to do this, and why our country should consider doing the same.

I love my country and its history. I am proud to be South African. Freedom Day is just another reminder to celebrate how far we’ve come as a nation, and how far we can move together in the future if we continue to work together.

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