Freedom Day was always a raucous time in the Union. Such was to be expected, really, when considering that it was one of the few holidays which the entire country celebrated together, rather than simply another one of the countless regional festivals. Down from the sleepy mountain capital of Maseru would come a bedazzling array of ministers, officials, and generals, who would in turn soon be joined by party functionaries and tribal chiefs from as far away as distant Mukumbura. Endless ranks of PDF troops would parade through the streets, while the pride of the nation’s aerospace industry screamed overhead.
eGoli was no stranger to being the center of attention on these days. The urban sprawl which made up the largest city in the Union, after all, stood witness to the events celebrated with all the pomp and circumstance the UAPR could muster. Even for the city once known as Johannesburg, however, 2100 was to be a special year.
It had been 100 years. A century since the toil and struggle of the revolution which had swept the land like bushfire and torn apart the last remnants of dead empires. A long century of feuding, reconstruction, and reconciliation. The nation which rose out of the ashes survived against all odds, and now, 100 years later, it was nearly unrecognizable from the tired warzone it had once been.
For the President, it was an important moment, one of the few when he could speak with complete certainty that the entire nation was listening not to the Secretary-General or some party official, but to him. A moment of complete unity in the Rainbow Nation, all focused on a position which otherwise wielded little power. Truth be told, the whole President thing was really just supposed to be his retirement, but he did quite enjoy these little ceremonies from time to time, and the pay wasn’t that bad for what it was…
Thus, it was with a sense of great satisfaction that Magashule adjusted his tie, stepped up to the podium, and surveyed the troops arrayed in Mandela Square.
“Dear people of the Union. Dear veterans, soldiers, sailors, and comrades. I wish you a happy Freedom Day!”
“On this day, we mark not just one hundred years from the day when our ancestors cast down their oppressors and took their fate into their own hands, but one hundred years of triumph and accomplishments. For one hundred years we have fought, on the battlefields, in the factories and the mines, so that our Union may rise from the ashes of colonialism and be able to promise peace and prosperity for our children, and all the children after them.”
“Today we remember those who sacrificed themselves for our nation’s future and avenged a century of humiliation for all our peoples. Our freedom was carved out over decades of courageous resistance, by men who fought and died for a dream they would not live to see. In their own blood, they planted the seeds for trees whose shade they would never enjoy. From resistance fighters in the bushlands of Zimbabwe to partisan cells in these very streets in eGoli, they laid the foundations of all that was to come. For them, I would ask for a moment of silence.”
After a moment, he continued.
“On this day, we must also look to the future, to ensure that we continue to prove ourselves worthy of the deeds of those who came before, who liberated our homes and drove the scourge of apartheid from our soil. We now stand at the dawn of the twenty-second century, faced with new challenges and new potentials. We have made scientific and technological strides beyond all reckoning. The stars above us no longer lie out of reach, and even the ice-covered plains to the south beckon. It is within our destiny to seize upon these opportunities, to forge boldly ahead to new frontiers, and to uphold the legacy of our forefathers by preserving our revolution and furthering our great Union for the benefit of all those who have yet to come!”
Magashule smiled and stepped back from the podium. Soon, he knew, the message would be translated into dozens of languages and dialects and broadcast from the highrises of eThekwini to even the little portable radios carried by the Namibian bushmen. And then, the celebrations could begin in earnest.