The question ‘What does human rights day mean to you?’ was asked to all the participants as human rights is an issue influencing every South African. On Thursday 21 March Human Rights day was celebrated. The theme for Human Rights month this year was ‘The year of indigenous languages: Promoting and deepening a human rights culture.’ This day is historically linked with 21 March 1960 and the events of Sharpville. This day marks an affirmation by ordinary people, rising to proclaim their rights. On this day human rights are commemorated as a reminder of our rights as South Africans and the price payed for our rights by our predecessors.
Roderiques Makwatie – I have the right to vote now because before 1994 people couldn’t vote. The people who fought for us before 1994 played a huge role in us having the rights we have today. I have access to public spaces now because before people couldn’t go in there and I can do so now. I live free because there are people who weren’t free before apartheid.
Refiloe Kuoe – Human Rights day is celebrating everybody’s constitutional rights meaning to be able to express yourself however you feel and have the safety to do so. It also means that you are entitled to do as you please and also have the responsibility to understand the law behind it all.
Michiel Kisten – Human Rights Day to me means a lot. It means freedom of speech. It means freedom to practice whatever religion you wish. Freedom to do whatever you want, responsibly.
MacDonald Gabaza – For me it actually means that celebrating the human rights that we have in the country now and which we have had to fight for. People died because they were fighting for us. We need to appreciate that and be cognisant of all the struggle that has gone into us being free today.
Lee-Ann Louise de Wee – We celebrate Human Rights Day because people struggled many years before our time for us to have our freedom. So we celebrate it because we are free. Not that Mandela freed us but he helped that us so that we can be free and that we can all live together – white, black and whoever. So I feel that we can celebrate Human Rights Day because we are free.
Chaswin Parker – I don’t have any feelings towards that, I don’t find it important. I, personally don’t. I don’t know, I never found an interest in it. But to be honest for me it remarks the day of freedom that is what it means for me basically, not the celebration of Nelson Mandela day and all that but Human Rights Day.
Caren Dick – I was born on Human Rights Day. I am all of that freedom, as it is my birthday.
When I think about Human Rights Day I think about the loss of my ancestors. How they lost their language, their vote, their heritage. But because I am here, I have the courage to take all of their losses with me and turn it into a milestone. Today I can celebrate it because I am free to do what I know my grandmother could not do. I will celebrate it because it is an emblem of what my great grandparents and their grandparents longed for
Siphelele Sithole – Human Rights day actually means valuing what you were given as a human, for instance the right to live and being responsible enough to exercise those rights that were given to you and being able to look at the next person and be empathetic towards them or their feelings.