Freedom Day 2017

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South Africa, the land of the free, of the equal and of democracy. “Freedom Day on 27 April is an annual celebration of South Africa’s first non-racial democratic elections of 1994. It is significant because it marks the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Nelson Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution.”[1]

Imagine in the time of disruption in technology, economic uncertainty, political upheavals and slow transformation, we can still hold onto our freedom. When we look back at the circumstances that imprisoned freedom, we should embrace the gratitude that we are have risen above the apartheid circumstances and live as free individuals and citizens of a powerful nation.

“With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of “white-only” jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. Classification into these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance, and descent.”

Pre-1994 were categorized according to our race and colour, today we celebrate the freedom of diversity, being different and inertly recognised as human beings with equal rights. Freedom Day is about our identity as South Africans, and it celebrates our uniqueness and it reminds us of our ability to persevere as nation in always standing firm to honour our democracy.

The SABPP supports and encourages democracy, equal rights and non-discrimination. As the HR professional body in South Africa, it acknowledges the uniqueness of our Constitution, by recognising the principles and spirit it was written in. It advocates for the profession to lead their portfolios in fair practice and support transformation. HR protects the human resources of the organisation like the Constitution protects the citizens of this country.

In honour freedom HR professionals should:

  • Create awareness around issues of discrimination: race, sex, gender, disability etc. The SABPP has taken the pledge against racism of any kind. It was signed by members and staff alike.
  • Drive programmes that create understanding and solutions to challenges around “freedom of speech, discrimination, unfairness” etc.
  • Change the vocabulary of the organisation by advocating for equality and fairness rather than discrimination.
  • Be innovative in leading the workforce in recognising and appreciating the uniqueness of their colleagues.
  • Create events that drive collaboration and team spirit of the workforce like sporting events etc.
  • Inform the organisation with articles and papers.
  • Be honest and fair in your approach, by protecting the human rights of the employees and including them in your plan.

Freedom Day should not be taken for granted. Though we have been empowered to live “free”, we still face many oppressive circumstances. The delivery by government on housing and health care is still pending. Education is not standardised and youth face the difficulty with access to higher education and jobs. The access to water and sanitation is not optimal, and many of our fellow South Africans face their daily lives without proper sanitation and drinking water.

Considering the above “Freedom” needs more support. Celebrate Freedom Day with the spirit of gratitude and the vision to uphold its value in our country. Be a part of the greatness by creating solutions that change lives and free souls. Freedom Day is for us to remember the sacrifice to achieve our “free” status and to endure the journey to uphold it.

Happy Freedom Day!


This article was written by Lathasha Subban Head: Knowledge and Innovation of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) with contributions from Marius Meyer, CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP).   For more information, you can follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or visit their website on