The 27th April 1994 was a historic and significant moment in our history – the day that all South Africans were granted the right to choose, express their opinion, and cast their votes. Subsequently, declared a public holiday, Freedom Day commemorates our liberty, and honours those that fought, sacrificed and lost their lives. As a country – as a nation – South Africans have demonstrated their resilience, hope and strength.
The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak – in our homes, our communities and our country, provide us with the opportunity to reflect about the freedoms that we take for granted as individuals and as society. Despite feeling that our freedom to interact and move around as we once did has been taken away, we as a nation have proven how, in the face of this unforeseen disaster, we have been able to unite. Whilst we are thankful for what we have, we need to be mindful of those who do not have food or even basic necessities to stay safe and fed during this difficult time, especially as we enter the winter months. It is important that, where possible in any way, we assist community organisations that are involved in support relief initiatives.
Our responsibility should be to our fellow human beings and also towards nature. The freedom that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away from us has revealed how society and human beings have impacted nature. The isolation, quarantine and lockdowns have allowed nature to attempt to balance, restore itself and flourish – free of pollution and overcrowding.
At Iziko Museums of South Africa, we are seeking new ways to re-imagine museums and our role in society post-COVID-19. This will include re-visioning not only how we present our exhibitions, but also how we as a museum connect with you, our visitors. The museums will remain closed temporarily for the duration of the lockdown. However, we invite you to explore our museums online, and share your experiences, insights and inputs via our social media platforms.
With freedom comes great responsibility. This pandemic has changed our lives. How we move forward as a nation that thinks and sees differently – mindful of our freedoms, appreciative of life and of nature – is the legacy we will leave future generations.
Adv. Rod Solomon
Chairperson of Council,
Iziko Museums of South Africa