Flag of South Africa

South Africa Celebrates Freedom Day 27 April 2023

By Joy Osiagwu

South Africa sometimes described as “the Rainbow Nation is one of Africa’s ethnically diverse nations. The area was originally inhabited by pastoral Khoekhoe, known as the hunter-gatherer San, the Xhosa, the famous Zulu nations, and other indigenous tribes before the arrival of the Dutch in the mid-17th century which led to the long years of aggressive colonial expansion. However, the British took over in 1795 but returned the mantle of leadership to the Dutch in 1782 but again returned back to Britain in 1806.

 The discovery of diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1886 intensified immigration and the subjugation of the local inhabitants. And for over 40 years, the white minority government controlled the affairs of the land. The National Party assumed leadership in 1948 and announced its policy of apartheid, institutionalizing racial discrimination.

However, with the violent struggle by the African National Congress (ANC) with the support of other political anti-apartheid activists across the country and abroad, the discriminatory laws began to be repealed in the 1980s, paving the way for ethnic and linguistic associations to gain political representation in the nation’s democracy made up of a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. By the 1990s, apartheid came to an end with the transition to democracy and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994 as the country’s first democratically elected President.

President Nelson Mandela of South Africa ( 1994-1999)

Nelson Mandela’s famous speech “ I Am Prepared to Die” continues to make a remarkable impact on the lives of many people across the world.

“I Am Prepared to Die” is the name given to the three-hour speech given by Nelson Mandela on 20 April 1964 from the dock of the defendant at the Rivonia Trial. The speech is so titled because it ends with the words “it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela’s leadership brought about genuine reconciliation to restore enduring peace and tranquility. Pretoria is where the Executive arm of the government is domiciled while Cape Town has the legislature. Bloemfontein is home to the judicial arm of the Government.

Mandela’s deputy, Thabo Mbeki was inaugurated to the presidency as the second Black President of South Africa from 1999 to September 2008 after his resignation on the insistence of the ANC.

South Africa is known as one of Africa’s most developed economies. It has a landmass of 1,221,037 sq km with a population of 60.6 million. The common languages spoken are Zulu, Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Sepedi, Swazi, Sesotho, Setswana, Xitsonga, Tshivenda, and Ndebele.

Current Governance Structure.

South Africa has a three-tier system of governance with an independent judiciary. The national provincial and local authorities all run executive and legislative powers in their domains as defined in the constitution (distinctive, interdependent, and interrelated).

His Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa is the current President of South Africa. He assumed duty as the fifth democratically elected president in 2018.

H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa (photo credit: Getty images)

Trending News

Ramaphosa declares a “state of disaster on energy”.

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a ‘state of disaster’ for the energy sector in the country following its incessant severe electricity challenges. South Africans have suffered from a prolonged power outage in the last few months as reported daily by various media organizations. According to Aljazeera news, the latest development is coming on the heels of the inability of the nation’s power utility Eskom to produce adequate power supply from its ‘aging coal-fired power stations following years of corruption’. Ramaphosa promised to appoint a new minister who will dedicate more time to resolving the electricity crisis.

President, Cyril Ramaphosa addressed MPs in Cape Town. (Photo credit; Aljazeera news)

South Africa Ottawa Connection.

Canada and South Africa have deep and broad bilateral relations on the shared values of democracy, security, and prosperity. This is based on Canada’s anti-apartheid efforts within the commonwealth in the 1980s. Canada supported the establishment of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and democratic society in South Africa. And this has strengthened ties between both countries over the years.  

 South Africa’s Vice President Kgalema Motlanthe’s visit to Canada in 2013

In 2013, South Africa’s Vice President at the time, His Excellency, Kgalema Motlanthe visited Canada in the quest to attract Canadian investors in the mining sector to his country to strengthen development in mines and steel development.

The South African High Commission in Ottawa is located at 15 Sussex Drive in the New Edinburgh neighborhood of Ottawa. The postal code is ON K1M 1M8. Telephone: (613) 744-0330. The High Commissioner is Mr. Rieaz Shaik. The High Commission has been active in the diplomatic community in Ottawa.