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SA marks 20 years of freedom

On this day 20 years ago, South Africa held its first ever non-racial democratic elections.

FILE: On this day 20 years ago, South Africa held its first ever non-racial democratic elections. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Millions of South Africans are celebrating 20 years of freedom this morning.

27 April 1994 was a day that South Africans held their breaths and voted in a time of tension and uncertainty.

Long queues formed at polling stations around the country, but the results a few days later brought peace and stability to the nation.

Events are being held across South Africa to celebrate the start of democracy.

This includes the Union Buildings in Pretoria where President Jacob Zuma will address the nation.

On this day 20 years ago, South Africa held its first ever non-racial democratic elections.

Millions of people, black and white, stood in long queues from morning to night waiting to cast their votes.

Songstress Yvonne Chaka Chaka described what she saw on that day.

"I think the nicest thing was seeing the madam, the gardener, the helper, the shopkeeper, everybody rich or poor, nobody cared who you were. We all stood in one line and we put our x."

The day marked the end of more than 300 years of colonialism and racial segregation.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says the younger generation is now showing a natural integration that would have been unthinkable two decades ago.

Tutu is joining church leaders across the country in celebrating today.

He says school children are the hope of tomorrow.

"When I pass a high school I often stop just to watch children who represent the whole demographics of South Africa."

Apart from Tutu, a number of other key figures in the struggle against apartheid are also celebrating today.

Human rights lawyer George Bizos, who represented former president Nelson Mandela during apartheid, has described Madiba's inauguration as a great event.

"Nelson Mandela saved us from a bloody revolution by being wise and moderate, and conciliatory and his non-violent policy prevailed."

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