It’s almost hard to believe that apartheid was just three decades ago and that South Africa is celebrating such a young democracy.
Wednesday April 27, 1994 — the day on which South Africa held its first democratic elections following the end of apartheid — defined a new era in the country, an era of absolute hope, an era where every person finally had a say on the leadership they wanted to see, an era where South Africans would begin to work towards the togetherness they so deserve.
In commemorating Freedom Day, we not only celebrate the first democratic election that saw Nelson Mandela make history by becoming the first Black president of the country, we also recognise the country’s emergence from a truly dark time.
The light that came upon South Africa that day was long-awaited, and while today the country still has historical wounds to heal, it’s important to use this one day of the year to celebrate the moment it became a rainbow nation.
What better way to celebrate Freedom Day than to take a moment to tune into the music that moves us? That’s why we asked our colleagues in the Global Citizen South Africa office what songs they’ll be listening to this Freedom Day.
Some songs speak of struggles and others are symbols of liberation — but all are worth adding to your playlist this Freedom Day.
A song in my downloads that makes me feel the most free is "Freedom" by Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar; and in honour of this momentous day, I’ll also be listening to "A Luta Continua" by Mama Afrika herself, Miriam Makeba, and "Colonial Mentality" by the incomparable Fela Kuti.
Senior Manager: Digital Campaigns
We are living through tough times right now and I’m sometimes required to dig a bit deeper in my days to find joy.
But "Mamela" by Micasa really makes me smile from inside. It’s my perfect feel good tune: it’s positive, upbeat, and feels like happy summer days when we can freely love. There is something about love that makes me (or all of us really) smile. I’ll definitely be jamming it on Freedom Day.
Senior Associate: Strategic Partnerships
"Redemption Song" by Bob Marley and "Black Man in a White World" by Michael Kiwanuka are on my Freedom Day playlist this year.
For me, they represent the praise and yearning for freedom. They are about standing together as a united front.
Senior Manager: Global Policy and Government Affairs
On Freedom Day I’ll be listening to "Ngiyathandaza (I am praying)" by Sands featuring Tshepo Tshola. It's a song about praying for hope which is really fitting for this difficult period.
Senior Manager: Food Security, Nutrition & Agriculture
My song pick is "Timbuktu", by Cassper Nyovest featuring Stormzy. It was part of Global Citizen's EP for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 back in 2018.
I got to like the song some months after the event and for me it’s reminiscent of a great moment as an organisation, but also represents a feel-good vibe, and a culmination of a great effort. It’s a catchy tune and the central theme of going to a far off place is very freeing.
I’ll be listening to "The Lord is Coming" by H.E.R and "A Change is Going to Come" by Aretha Franklin.
I picked these songs because even though I'm not necessarily free as a Black woman, it gives me a sense of hope that things will get better. I look forward to a day where I'm completely free from abuse, sexual violence, discrimination, and any brutality from law enforcement.
Don't know why but the song "Iyeza" by Zain SA makes me feel really good so that's what I'll be listening to.
"I Shall Be Released" by Nina Simone reminds me of how even though we've come so far, there's still so much to do in order to reach equality and the recogntion of everyone's — especially queer people's — humanity.
A song that makes me feel free is Beyonce’s "Schoolin’ Life", I generally listen to it in the morning and it makes me feel like I can tackle anything and everything. Gives me so much confidence and makes me feel free to express myself.
I’ll also be tuning into "Magic Hour" by Jhene Aiko this Freedom Day as it's calming and helps me reflect on a lot of things that I’ll be doing on the day.
Lead Writer & Editor
A talented South African artist gone too soon was Lebo Mathosa, and that’s who I’ll be listening to this Freedom Day. Her song, "I Love Music" is one that I can recall dancing to as a child, and as music brings people together, her ode to the medium is a beautiful message for the day.
I’m also loving "Humxn Race" by Raphael Saadiq at the moment, a song about unity and spreading love which was created for Global Citizen's STAND UP album, executive produced by Grammy-winning R&B legend Saadiq, in partnership with Parlophone Records and Atlantic Records.
The song that I will be listening to on Freedom Day and which makes me feel alive is "Power" by Kanye West, it inspires me to get up and believe in my capabilities and know that it’s okay to start over all the time.
Digital Campaigns Fellow
The song I will listen to on Freedom Day is "A Luta Continua" by Miriam Makeba. I feel like the freedom that we have now is not ideal, there is still more that needs to be done to achieve that complete freedom. We still have unequal education, gender inequality, and the list goes on. We still need to work harder as a nation to obtain that freedom that Nelson Mandela wanted for us.
I too will be listening to "A Luta Continua" by Miriam Makeba this Freedom Day. Apartheid might be years behind us, but we are still far from being free as Black people. The fight still continues.
I will be listening to "Level Up (Twice As Tall)" by Burna Boy featuring Youssou N’Dour. Apart from the great vocals and upbeat, fun, and energetic melodies that get me dancing, it inspires me to strive for more. Freedom to me means achieving things I dream of and doing so with responsibility and being self-aware, to “level up” and reach for greatness while ensuring that everyone around me is inspired to achieve their dreams as well.
Global Policy Affairs Fellow
This Freedom day I will be listening to a song by Judy Mowatt from her album called Black Women, and the song is "Sister's Chant". I'm going to be playing this anthem because it's powerful, timeless, and reminds me that I’m bigger than my problem. I can overcome any issue I face. It's dedicated to Black women's rights and is like a prayer for strength.
At the top of my playlist this Freedom Day will be the anthemic and inspirational "Spirit" by Beyoncé. This song gives me a sense of triumph, like sunshine after a storm. To me it represents a new chapter in life after the trials and tribulations you go through as a person. It is a perfect fit for any playlist celebrating freedom.
The song that makes me feel the most free is Beyonce's "I Was Here". The lyrics are affirming and make me feel like I can conquer, and be anything in the world.
I’ll be listening to "Not Yet Uhuru" by Letta Mbuli on Freedom Day. It speaks of a nation that is still not free, like our current state in South Africa. There are still a lot of inequalities, there is still a lot of corruption, violence is still a norm, unemployment is at a high. Freedom is still yet to be achieved.
My freedom day song is "Not Yet Uhuru" by Letta Mbuli. I choose this song because I feel that we are not yet free as we still fight for literally everything.
The song I’ll be listening to on Freedom day is "Black or White" by Michael Jackson. This song serves as a reminder that we are one and we should all live in harmony. It does not matter what race you are, all that matters is treating everyone with love and respect.