Thousands march in South Africa’s 1st Pride since COVID-19 pandemic to mark end of apartheid
The Pride Parade began in a quiet, orderly manner.
At the top of the steps, hundreds of men and women were wearing masks, and the occasional one with a red bandana pulled down over the head to hide their face. Some carried placards, others had posters, but nearly all had their faces covered.
As Pride commemorated a year of peace and unity, this was the largest gathering in South Africa so far.
For many black South Africans, pride is an occasion to celebrate, but also one that marks an end to the country’s past. Celebrations began Monday and will continue until noon Tuesday.
But beyond the celebrations, the march, which began last year in a small church in Soweto, the centre of a large, impoverished black township, is also a show of support for those forced to leave home and work in order to survive.
“When we started in 2018 we were only 10 people and we were the first African Pride of our country,” said Gaylene, 19, who was one of the organizers of the parade. “Now we’re over 300 people and we are the largest gathering in South Africa.”
For them, as for many African Pride events, the themes this year were love, healing, unity and, especially, remembering the past.
“This is just starting to get healed now,” said Amrita, 37, who was visiting from the United States. “There’s a lot more healing to do. People don’t even want to remember it.”
For some, the march is a reminder of how far South Africa has come since apartheid, or the system in which white South Africans ruled the black majority without a say in government and society.
“When you come back from the white world you know you can’t go back to those times. Now life is better for everybody. It’s better now,” said Yoleva Dubeza.
The parade was intended to mark the end of apartheid, but the timing was unfortunate.
“I think it’s a sad thing that they have to have this thing to end apartheid, but I feel that if those in power [who ran the