The Freedom Issue

We were watching the documentary, Lesbians Free Everyone with the whole team at the Art of Superwoman Headquarters one Friday Afternoon, a privilege offered to us by Dr Beverly Ditsie. As the documentary continued one of my younger employees, if we were chatting on South African Twitter we would label them i2000 (one born in the 2000s), exclaims “is that an ANC flag? Did they take an ANC flag to a protest overseas?”

We paused the documentary at this point and started talking about this moment. A moment view by a GenZ as an ANC moment in a LGBTIQ protest but to us who grew up understanding the liberation struggle, understood why liberation of black and brown bodies was in fact connected to the liberation of all.

As Dr Bev, as she is affectionately know, mentions in our conversation on Art of Superwoman, you could not report sexual violence by a family member to the police during apartheid, this was the apartheid police. You were sending a family member to an apartheid prison, not just prison. The Black community of South Africa filled the prisons during apartheid and even in prisons Whites and Blacks were segregated because of the racial discrimination.

Even in prison, White South Africans had it far better than Black people.
The very notion of freedom isn’t a blanket concept… it has conditions based on your race and economic standing. Terms that are largely felt by black women.

In South Africa, the struggle for women’s suffrage started in 1889 and was mainly driven by the Women’s Enfranchisement Association of the Union. The first general election at which women could vote was the 1933 election – a victory predicated in racial inequality. The enfranchisement of very specific small group of black male voter (the number of black men who met certain statutory educational and property qualifications were entitled to vote alongside white males) and the white female vote, meant that black women and the black youth majority of South Africa were forced to hand their lives over to a small group of the black male vote, and the minority white vote. When black women were eventually allowed to vote, their vote was seeped in strife, turmoil, contention and bitterness, a struggle to which any woman would shrink. 

No nation can prosper without an emancipated women and youth cohort. For women and youth to enjoy this democratic right in our lifetime and for our continent to prosper, we need to Reset Africa. This requires our beautiful continent to rediscover a new path to greatness in the modern world. In resetting South Africa, every other African democracy, we need to reset the strife, the turmoil, and the contentious conditions the youth and women (especially black) are faced with when they decide to be participants at the ballot. We must reset the structural inequalities pertaining to the youth and woman vote. We must have a clear plan to improve the lives of all who live on our continent. We must create sustainable businesses, jobs, and safe spaces for all to work, live, learn and play. We must improve our infrastructure and basic services. In order for freedom to be evident and thrive, we must root out corruption and improve governance and accountability across all government spheres. We must increase women and youth representation in leadership positions across government, business, and politics. We must all have a collective mandate of ensuring that Africa does not remain a third-world continent despite being blessed with mineral resources, vast of arable land, great weather and some of the most incredible people and cultures on earth. Women and youth must be at the center of it all. Nothing about us, without us.

AoS x Jamil F. Khan – What Do We Really Mean When We Talk Freedom?

Freedom Series: What is True Freedom?

When confronted with the question of what freedom is, a few thoughts come to mind. Despite having been promised freedom in 1994, very few of us are yet to feel free, despite our world-renowned constitution. Freedom does not lie in the ability to walk on pavements or use the front entrance of a building, does it? We seem to invoke these post-apartheid liberties when discussing the topic as if such things were not always a right of ours.

Freedom Series: Thinking About Freedom, Moving Beyond Here & Now

The Freedom Series looks at freedom beyond simply being a function of political and legislative reforms, but as a social state of being that allows people the ability to imagine and dream of more than the here and now.

Freedom Series: Imagining A Freedom Not Yet Seen

The Freedom Series looks at freedom beyond simply being a function of political and legislative reforms, but a social state of being that allows people the ability to imagine and dream of more than the here and now

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