Independence Day around the world usually involves grand ceremonial displays and epic celebrations – and rightfully so! Commemorating the birth of a nation is always an occasion of joy, and incidentally makes for the perfect opportunity to reflect upon our own reasons for celebrating.
The idea of independence has evolved from being a political ideology we fought for, to a personal mantra we now live by. Knowing how each person defines his own freedom made us go out and ask members of the Asante Africa team: “What does Independence mean to you?”
(Asante Africa Teams’s Thoughts on Independence)
We quickly realized that even if the words were different, the underlying message remained the same. To have the ability to “follow your bliss” is an incredibly important part of our happiness now. It could hardly be possible today if it was not for our founding fathers who fought so hard to champion the most basic of our human rights.
“Freedom to live or do as you wish.” – Glory, Tanzania
“Independence is taking control of your life.” –Soumya, USA
“The right to make the right choice for myself and for others in general.” – Joel, Kenya
“Independence means having the freedom to have choice and have the ability to act on that choice.”– Erna, USA
“Independence Day to me is having the freedom to follow my dreams, travel freely, and build the life I want.” – Jenn, BC
“Independence to me means overcoming barriers/challenges to achieve one’s goal or dreams in life.”- Hellen Kaimuri, USA
“Freedom to dream and reaching out to them without being oppressed economically, socially, and politically.” – Julita, Kenya
“Independence for me is having rewarding work that allows me to live in places where I can enjoy the things I like to do.” – Grant Copenhaver, USA
And close at the heels of following your bliss is of course having the responsibility of taking on what comes of your actions and being accountable for whatever the results.
“It means physical, mental and emotional freedom to do what will benefit me and my neighbours according to Gods laws and county’s laws.” – Teresiai, Kenya
“To take control and responsibility for the management of affairs. To make mistakes and correct them in a process that is part of the learning experience.” –Charles, Kenya
“Freedom to plan, exist, and make decisions as a state without interference from outside pressure. Not being politically independent only, but economically too.” –Fred, Tanzania
“Independence, means being free from outside control/authority and assume responsibility for your own decision while considering both the people and the environment around you.” – Anderson Hussein, Kenya
“Independence and freedom also come with responsibilities and obligations to myself and to others. If I make bad choices or mistakes, it is my responsibility to correct them, or if not correctable, suffer the consequences. One must take responsibility for their own actions and choices.” –Shirley, USA
Looking beyond our own realities where freedom of speech and religion, and even the right to education can still be threatened, drives home the importance of being ever more vigilant. For the latter, at least, our fight goes on. Giving African youth access to quality education is a step towards a new kind of freedom that they never would have experienced otherwise. And while we are thankful for all the liberties and choices available to us now, we recognize that we still have some ways to go before it becomes a true celebration of freedom without qualifications.
Here’s to a future of true freedom and new hopes, and a Happy Independence Day to all!