March 21st marked Human Rights Day on the South African calendar — a day where people commemorate the struggles suffered by those fighting for equality and justice. It also marks the anniversary of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in 1996, an organisation dedicated to continuously fighting for human rights.
We rejoice this day by appreciating the rights we have, which include the right to dignity, equality, education, and expression.
This year’s Human Rights Day brought a large number of people to participate in events hosted by the Equal Education (EE). The event’s main intention was to hand over a memorandum to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, requesting her to ensure the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure is signed into law, as promised in last year’s policy gazette. The memorandum is also similar to the National Policy for the Equitable Provision of an Enabling School Teaching and Learning Environment (NPEP).
Unfortunately, Motshekga wasn’t present to take the memorandum, but Dingani Ngobeni, the Chief of Staff in the Basic Education Ministry, accepted it on her behalf. There was a great turn-out at the event, including a number of youth who were also advocating for advancing their education.
According to the Cape Times, Yoliswa Dwane, Equal Education spokeswoman, was quoted as saying, “Young people in the province showed today that they have an interest in their education. They came in numbers and wanted their voices to be heard.”
(Note: A similar march is planned for March 31, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria)
Aside from Parliament, other areas in Cape Town were also celebrating Human Rights Day, but this time in the form of arts and performance. Gugulethu residents and surrounding areas enjoyed the rhythm of the Cape, as the Amy Biehl Foundation, in association with the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Musicians Association and the Department Cultural Affairs and Sports presented the Cape Township Jazz Festival.
The likes of Amy Biehl Youth Bands, Yolanda Yawa, Mtika, The Tribe of Benjamin and the Milton Academy Jazz Band played at the event. The admission was only R5, giving an opportunity for people of all areas to attend the event.
Through political lobbying, speeches, and performances, it was clear that Cape Town made a statement in the on-going fight for human rights. Though we celebrate our achievements, it’s equally important to focus on the future and continue paving the way for justice and fairness.
Human Rights Day is incredibly important in reminding us that despite our differences, we are at the end of the day, all human.