Luke-warm contemplations of Freedom Day


The point of departure, perhaps, is for the writer to concede igno- rance : this opinion piece if not found satisfactory to the readers standards or expectations, then thewriter asks, for lack of better word or phrase, that you define or cate- gorize it as “a kind of [premature] masturbatory release” of a born free average university student.

Njabulo V Zwane puts it that “the past is never a thing of the past. It is passed down and around like a gourd of beer or any kwaai piece of music”. Thus, Human Rights Day is not and cannot only be a day reserved for taking cognisance of the past- or past injustices.

There is a further obligation to each citizen on Human Rights Day to recognize the specter of violence that continues to haunt South Af- ricans, more especially the precar- ious lives who are vulnerable to “gratuitous violence” daily.

Somewhat dialectical and con- troversial, Dambuzo Marachera suggests that “there are many shades of black but the only true one is that of the have-nots?” if, for a moment, one accepts this hypothesis, which we can agree is both exclusionary but relevant through invoking class relations in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

One must digress here because there is the temptation to reference Post-Apartheid South Africa only as South Africa because the inclusion of the term ‘post-apartheid’ “invokes that which it seemingly negates, namely, apartheid”.

However, it is evident that the spatiotemporal we occupy has pervasive links that continue to exist between apartheid and post-apartheid.These links are characterised by identity, gender, race, class, geographical location, inclusion and exclusion. Then, Marachera’s hypothesis becomes important in the context of South Africa as it shifts the paradigm of the notion of freedom being homogeneously experienced.

The disruption/interruption of the preconceived notion offreedom requires us to find newmodes of imagining, articulating, framing and representing free- dom. Perhaps, Ishtiyaq Shukri’s character Leila in his second nov- el I See You, provides us with the right intervention for new modes when she asks her audience “How free do you feel?”

A layperson’s understanding of Marxism is sufficient to infer that in a society marked by high levels of inequality, a response to the above question by majority of the citizens will probably be in the negative. It cannot be disputed that the material conditions of a person determine the level of freedom one enjoys.

Personally, I do not feel very free. My answer is not informed only by my material conditions but taking into considering the millions of people that are denied these basic human rights and free- doms daily.

Substantial progress in Post-Apartheid South Africa has been made and entrenched our Constitution to provide freedom, basic human rights and social rights to those who were previous- ly denied. However, the knowl- edge that others are denied thesebasic human rights should unsettleeven those who sleep with a copy of the Constitution under their pil- low.

This coming Freedom Day gives me an opportunity to con-template with the little freedom I feel as to what freedom means. Surprisingly, I turn for solace to the man dubbed ‘the most dangerous thinker in the West’, Slavoj Zizek who reminds us that “we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom”.

*Motsoari is studying LLB and de- scribes himself in the words of Lady Caroline Lamb when describing Lord Byron: “I am mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

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