27 April celebrates the day when the first democratic election was held in South Africa in the year 1994. Today, on the 27 of April each year, South Africa celebrates Freedom Day to mark the liberation of our country and its people from a long period of colonialism and white minority domination.

The Hook asked fishers what freedom symbolised to them as fishing communities. This is what some fishers had to say about freedom and freedom day.

“I can’t see it (freedom) as yet, I am only seeing political masquerades pretending to work for the people,” said Ntsindiso Nongcavu, a fisher and Coastal Links member in the Eastern Cape. “For fishers, freedom will come from receiving rights to access marine resources.”

Thembinkosi Kopolo a fisherman from Philippi in the Western Cape said freedom means to live in peace and work together to build a better future.

“It means living harmoniously with that which provides life to us. It means not only accessing marine resources but also knowing how to take care of what takes care of you”.

On the meaning of freedom for fishers, Ayanda Yekani from Hamburg, Eastern Cape, said: “to access our catches and to have people who we can trust to give us proper information about proper fishing processes that directly affect us.”

Women, are also a very valuable part of the small-scale fisheries sector. Though many do not go to sea, most are involved in the pre and post harvesting processes. The Hook, also asked women what freedom meant to them and their families as they are the nurturers of their family and communities.

Nozuko Poni from Khayelitsha said, it means to be able to be secured and not to worry about putting food on the table.

“As women, we worry about how will our families sustain themselves, so for me freedom means being able to provide and take care of my family with peace of mind,” Nozuko reiterated.

“For me it is to be able to play a role in uplifting my community,” said Sarah Niemand of Buffeljagsbaai.  “Freedom means being recognised that I too play a very important role in making sure that my family and loved ones are well nourished and I am able to share my skills and ideas to have a better life.”

For Zingisa Ludude, freedom means being able to assert your right as a women. “The times are gone when women were expected to keep quiet and not say how they feel,” she said. “For me and my children, freedom means being able to access education and amenities that we could not in the past, it also means using that which we are able to access responsibly so that the future generation can be also be able to benefit.”

The 27th of April marks a very special day for many South Africans. In the Small-Scale Fisheries sector, the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy will bring about this freedom –freedom to go to sea, freedom to access rights and the freedom to live a life that sustains the livelihoods of many small-scale fishing communities in the country.

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