In South Africa we are commemorating the eventual arrival of democracy for all with ‘Freedom Day’ on 27 April.
It’s been 18 years.
It’s been 22 years.
In 1990 Nelson Mandela was set free from prison – after decades on Robin Island.
In 1994 our country saw democratic elections on a one man one vote basis.
There was no violence.
All the fear was unfounded.
It was peaceful.
It was supposed to bring freedom.
And it has.
In some ways.
Everyone in South Africa is now free to own land, wherever they can afford to buy it.
We can do business.
We can pray to the god of our preference or not.
We can marry across the artificial boundaries of race and language and gender.
We can love whomever our heart desires.
We can educate our children in the way we choose.
We can travel where we want too.
Shop and eat where we like.
We can move & associate without impediment.
I suppose, if you were restricted in all of this, these freedoms are wonderful.
I have no idea what it would be like to live in a world in which these basic freedoms are absent.
Perhaps I’m not qualified to write on freedom.
I’ve known nothing but freedom.
In one sense.
In another sense, freedom has been illusive.
And its been only recently that I’ve made the passage to embracing it.
I think freedom comes from inside.
It ‘becomes’ inside of us.
On many layers.
With Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday Bono (of U2 fame) suggested: ‘… a different kind of struggle is going on, one for the soul of the people of South Africa.’
Perhaps this struggle is not only an African struggle.
Perhaps it is a struggle we should recognize.
For a freedom which cannot be found in sociopolitical freedom or promised economic abundance.
When they released him from prison, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela said: ‘it is a struggle I am prepared to give my life to.’
This freedom – this deeper freedom – for this I am prepared to give my life.
For this I pray.
For without it, any apparent freedom, would be an illusion.