On Wednesday, South Africa celebrated Freedom Day, which honors the country's first post-apartheid democratic election in 1994.
Cointelegraph reached out to different notable individuals in the South African crypto community to see what the holiday meant to them. BitcoinZAR, a Bitcoin advocate in South Africa, noted that "Freedom Day means you are free to use your own money to live your best life," adding:
“We are free on Freedom Day to choose Bitcoin instead of losing value with government money. Stop aiding and abetting state capture, corruption and looting in South Africa. Vote with your money, and buy Bitcoin.”
Several crypto-related firms have sprouted in the nation, including Luno, a cryptocurrency exchange, while some businesses, including retail stores and travel agencies, now take Bitcoin payments.
Luno, which was founded by two South Africans in 2013, has 10 million customers in over 40 countries. The company's rapid expansion last year was demonstrated by the addition of one million new clients in four months. In 2017, South Africa's then-largest online retailer, Pick n Pay, began accepting Bitcoin payments at one of its stores, hinting at cryptocurrency's potential as a form of payment.
Freedom day is celebrated today in South Africa. Freedom is a scary notion. To be free one needs to accept personal responsibility. #Bitcoin will naturally stir you in the direction of learning and making choices instead of waiting for those in power to hopefully take care of you pic.twitter.com/Ib7h50XAdq— UNRAVEL SURF TRAVEL (@UnravelSurf) April 27, 2022
Unravel Surf Travel is a South African travel company that began accepting Bitcoin in 2015. According to the travel company, it has primarily served the Russian/Eastern European market since 2011, providing surfing trips to South Africa. The region is presently in upheaval because of Russia's military incursion into Ukraine. Western sanctions and fiat currency volatility have made Unravel Surf Travel's clients more open to paying for trips in cryptocurrency. The travel firm added that:
"Since 2015, we've used Bitcoin to receive payments from clients who wish to travel and enjoy a South Africa surfing experience but would otherwise have been prevented from doing so. Thanks to Bitcoin, we could operate, earn a living and our clients could travel, despite what their often dubiously elected officials did."
Lukhangele Brabo, a 17-year-old South African who is a Bitcoin supporter and advocate, explained to Cointelegraph why Freedom Day is so important to him. Brabo said that "Freedom Day means having the greatest power and right to act." Brabo used to work at Surfer Kids in Diaz Beach, South Africa, where he used to receive a salary through fiat. Unfortunately for him, his family used to take all of his money when he was a young man, leaving him with no alternative source of income. However, things began to look up for him after he discovered Bitcoin from Bitcoin Ekasi, a well-known South African Bitcoin advocate:
"Now, what happened is l stopped getting paid in fiat and l started receiving my weekly salaries in Bitcoin that became very interesting because l realized that OK, Bitcoin is safer than fiat because no one can take it away from me. It's on my phone and it's safer. No matter what they did to try and take it all it couldn't work because why? They don't know how it works and how to use it."
Almost 20% of South Africans, according to Borgen Magazine, survive on less than $1.90 a day. Both inequality and poverty in South Africa are exacerbated by widespread corruption. Former President Jacob Zuma oversaw rampant corruption from 2009 to 2018. Zuma is estimated to have cost South Africa at least $35 billion and perhaps more than three million people fell below the poverty line during his term.