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In Pictures: South Africa’s 18 years of ‘freedom’
President Jacob Zuma struggled to get the party started on the 18th anniversary of the end of apartheid.
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2012 16:20

Pretoria, South Africa - It was easy to hear the young woman shout out: "Marry me, Zuma!" when the South African president took to the podium.
 
Not only was she standing just next to me, it was one of very few sounds of excitement when Jacob Zuma prepared to address the crowd of thousands on Freedom Day in Pretoria.
 
The national holiday celebrates the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the country's first ever free and fair elections in 1994 - when Nelson Mandela, then head of the African National Congress (ANC), was elected president. The date, April 27, is commemorated each year outside the president’s offices at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
 
But, despite the event being heralded by Zuma's speech, he wasn't the man at the focus of celebrations for much of the crowd.

"We are free because of Mandela," said Maria Mokari, a woman sitting under a tent in the "elderly" section near the back of the rally. Nelson Mandela, now a reportedly ailing 93-year-old, gave his inaugural address at the Union Buildings - an event attended by hundreds of thousands back 1994.

Mokari recognized Zuma as the president and said "sure" she supports him, but continued: "The real man who did this is Mandela.

"We pray that God will give him more days to lead this country."
 
As Zuma’s speech continued, much of the crowd held side conversations, and many fell asleep on the grass under the autumn day's gentle sunshine. Save a small group of a few dozen near the speaker's podium, very few of the thousands at Union Buildings seemed interested in the speech.

While Zuma focused on "nonracialism" - a principle that defined the ANC and much of the anti-apartheid movement since the 1955 Freedom Charter - the racial element of the day could not be ignored. Not including myself, I counted no more than five or six white people among the crowd.
 
As Zuma spoke of diversity, a man walking through the crowd shouted: "What diversity?" - his hands outstretched amid the crowd of black faces.
 
Moments after his speech ended, a popular song came on that electrified the crowd. "Nelson Mandela, there is no one like you," sang the band in Zulu, and the crowd of thousands joined along with them.

Hanging out with his friends on the steps of the Union Buildings, 17-year-old Matswi told Al Jazeera that it wasn't Mandela on his own who "freed" the country from nearly five decades of apartheid, "but he helped in the freeing of South Africa".

Matswi said he'd been inspired by Mandela, and described himself "as an aspiring freedom fighter".

For many, the day remains an emotional event.
 
Seventy-two-year-old Beauty Mmsiza described the incident that made her realise the injustice of apartheid when, in 1955, she, her father and her sister, watched as police beat her mother for leaving her identification papers at home. Her mother was then imprisoned for a number of months.
 
When asked how she felt today, Mmsiza replied: "Wow, I am so happy. I can walk in town at midnight, go to the [same] toilet [facilities as] white people, I can buy what they buy. Before it wasn't like this.
 
"Now, I can even talk to you."

 


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
The Freedom Day event was promoted with posters announcing an appearance by the South African president.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
While the ANC commands the support of a majority of black South Africans, some supporters of other political parties say that until blacks gain economic rights, "freedom" has yet to be achieved.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
President Jacob Zuma told the crowd: "Like a phoenix, a new society rose from the ashes of what was called 'a crime against humanity'."


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Many in the audience appeared uninterested in Zuma's speech.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
After hours of speeches by Zuma and others in his government, the party began in earnest.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Music was an important part of the resistance to apartheid, and much of it contained strong political messages.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Face paint and untied shoes were popular among the younger revellers.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Near to the crowd, a mobile clinic offered free HIV testing. In recent years the government has taken greater efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Maria Mokari, a woman celebrating Freedom Day, said: "We pray that God will give [Mandela] more days to lead this country."


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Beauty Mmsiza was 15 years old when she witnessed police beat her mother for not carrying her identification papers.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Patrick Mazwagi, a member of the Communist Party of South Africa and a supporter of the ANC, said that, after the first Freedom Day, when South Africans face problems "we resolve them all together".


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Thuthukani Cele and his One People Band perform for the crowd.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Many among the crowd cheering the musical performances praised Nelson Mandela and focused on the idea of unity.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Revellers were enjoying the music and happy to be photographed.


Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera
Young people hang out beneath a stature of former South African Prime Minister JBM Hertzog in the gardens of the Union Buildings. Only two decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for black people to walk freely around the presidential compound.


Follow Matthew Cassel on Twitter: @justimage


images:
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captions:
The Freedom Day event was promoted with posters announcing an appearance by the South African president.;*;While the ANC commands the support of a majority of black South Africans, some supporters of other political parties say that until blacks gain economic rights, "freedom" has yet to be achieved.;*;President Jacob Zuma told the crowd: "Like a phoenix, a new society rose from the ashes of what was called \(***)a crime against humanity\(***).";*;Many in the audience appeared uninterested in Zuma\(***)s speech.;*;After hours of speeches by Zuma and others in his government, the party began in earnest.;*;Music was an important part of the resistance to apartheid, and much of it contained strong political messages.;*;Face paint and untied shoes were popular among the younger revellers.;*;Near to the crowd, a mobile clinic offered free HIV testing. In recent years the government has taken greater efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.;*;Maria Mokari, a woman celebrating Freedom Day, said: "We pray that God will give [Mandela] more days to lead this country.";*;Beauty Mmsiza was 15 years old when she witnessed police beat her mother for not carrying her identification papers.;*;Patrick Mazwagi, a member of the Communist Party of South Africa and a supporter of the ANC, said that, after the first Freedom Day, when South Africans face problems "we resolve them all together".;*;Thuthukani Cele and his One People Band perform for the crowd.;*;Many among the crowd cheering the musical performances praised Nelson Mandela and focused on the idea of unity. ;*;Revellers were enjoying the music and happy to be photographed.;*;Young people hang out beneath a stature of former South African Prime Minister JBM Hertzog in the gardens of the Union Buildings. Only two decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for black people to walk freely around the presidential compound. Daylife ID:
1335798384504
Photographer:
Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel;*;Matthew Cassel
Image Source:
Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
In Pictures: South Africa’s 18 years of ‘freedom’http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99Scenes from Pretoria's Freedom Day celebrationen-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Mon, 30 Apr 2012 15:06:23 GMTMon, 30 Apr 2012 15:59:01 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=05Rp0zM1bE9UKThe Freedom Day event was promoted with posters announcing an appearance by the South African president.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=05Rp0zM1bE9UKMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe Freedom Day event was promoted with posters announcing an appearance by the South African president. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0abKg1Be2kerCWhile the ANC commands the support of a majority of black South Africans, some supporters of other political parties say that until blacks gain economic rights, "freedom" has yet to be achieved.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0abKg1Be2kerCMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesWhile the ANC commands the support of a majority of black South Africans, some supporters of other political parties say that until blacks gain economic rights, "freedom" has yet to be achieved. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=04ve3AJ9n4c1SPresident Jacob Zuma told the crowd: "Like a phoenix, a new society rose from the ashes of what was called 'a crime against humanity'."Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=04ve3AJ9n4c1SMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPresident Jacob Zuma told the crowd: "Like a phoenix, a new society rose from the ashes of what was called 'a crime against humanity'." http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=093Kbj78lb1NvMany in the audience appeared uninterested in Zuma's speech.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=093Kbj78lb1NvMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMany in the audience appeared uninterested in Zuma's speech. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=05un3L28PndtvAfter hours of speeches by Zuma and others in his government, the party began in earnest.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=05un3L28PndtvMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesAfter hours of speeches by Zuma and others in his government, the party began in earnest. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0avd8MAbSO6MhMusic was an important part of the resistance to apartheid, and much of it contained strong political messages.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0avd8MAbSO6MhMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMusic was an important part of the resistance to apartheid, and much of it contained strong political messages. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0dsV3uicZP9OBFace paint and untied shoes were popular among the younger revellers.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0dsV3uicZP9OBMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesFace paint and untied shoes were popular among the younger revellers. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=00JQ5qkcbrbPQNear to the crowd, a mobile clinic offered free HIV testing. In recent years the government has taken greater efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=00JQ5qkcbrbPQMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesNear to the crowd, a mobile clinic offered free HIV testing. In recent years the government has taken greater efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0chy3g4aWs3oxMaria Mokari, a woman celebrating Freedom Day, said: "We pray that God will give [Mandela] more days to lead this country."Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0chy3g4aWs3oxMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMaria Mokari, a woman celebrating Freedom Day, said: "We pray that God will give [Mandela] more days to lead this country." http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=07HLbeu17X2LqBeauty Mmsiza was 15 years old when she witnessed police beat her mother for not carrying her identification papers.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=07HLbeu17X2LqMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesBeauty Mmsiza was 15 years old when she witnessed police beat her mother for not carrying her identification papers. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0gJ06RC3ps8HwPatrick Mazwagi, a member of the Communist Party of South Africa and a supporter of the ANC, said that, after the first Freedom Day, when South Africans face problems "we resolve them all together".Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0gJ06RC3ps8HwMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPatrick Mazwagi, a member of the Communist Party of South Africa and a supporter of the ANC, said that, after the first Freedom Day, when South Africans face problems "we resolve them all together". http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0b8paKHdFT0C7Thuthukani Cele and his One People Band perform for the crowd.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=0b8paKHdFT0C7Matthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThuthukani Cele and his One People Band perform for the crowd. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=02Yq03n5zw04QMany among the crowd cheering the musical performances praised Nelson Mandela and focused on the idea of unity. Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=02Yq03n5zw04QMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMany among the crowd cheering the musical performances praised Nelson Mandela and focused on the idea of unity. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=07jkcjL36Nbt4Revellers were enjoying the music and happy to be photographed.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=07jkcjL36Nbt4Matthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesRevellers were enjoying the music and happy to be photographed. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=03nwew02Kc3VLYoung people hang out beneath a stature of former South African Prime Minister JBM Hertzog in the gardens of the Union Buildings. Only two decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for black people to walk freely around the presidential compound.Mon, 30 Apr 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/In-Pictures%3A-South-Africa%E2%80%99s-18-years-of-%E2%80%98freedom%E2%80%99?image_id=03nwew02Kc3VLMatthew CasselAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesYoung people hang out beneath a stature of former South African Prime Minister JBM Hertzog in the gardens of the Union Buildings. Only two decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for black people to walk freely around the presidential compound.

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