For Eric Apelgren, Freedom Day will always be held in high regard for one simple reason.
“It was the first time I was allowed to vote,” he said.
Apelgren is currently the Head of Governance and Relations at the eThekwini Municipality.
Despite having made his way up the ranks, due to his skin colour and race classification, he has had to face his fair share of discrimination during Apartheid.
He grew up in the Durban-South township of Wentworth. No fancy cars or branded fashion, he learned to make do with the little (but enough) that his parents provided for him and his seven sisters and four brothers.
While gangsterism was the order of the day during his childhood years, he set his sights firmly on fighting for his freedom. Not only his but the generations to come.
“Racism, losing friends to gang violence and seeing the abuse of women and children, I joined a youth movement and political organisations to stop the violence and build a better society. Gangsterism and violence was not part of our culture and heritage – the uprooting and dumping of coloured people in places like Wentworth because the Apartheid legislation fuelled the violence and family instability.,” he said.
“I was able to vote for our beloved Madiba and usher in a new democracy,” he said.
The father of three believes that while the youth of today do not fully grasp the concept of Freedom Day and the true meaning behind it, this is where government needs to step in and educate them by way of the school curriculum.
While his job affords him the opportunity to travel to many parts of the world, Apelgren remains deeply committed to creating more channels of freedom for the communities of KwaZulu-Natal.