The apartheid government fought hard to stay in power. It imposed strict media laws and extended the reach of its security forces. This resulted in further acts of violence against anti-apartheid activists and ordinary South Africans. A state of emergency governed the late 1980s.
Hundreds of activists were shot dead and over 30 000 detained without trial. From prison, Nelson Mandela took the initiative to engage his political adversaries in the apartheid government. Calls for the release of Mandela and all political prisoners echoed around the world.
FW de Klerk succeeded the late PW Botha as the country’s last white president in September 1989. Four-and-a-half months later, De Klerk stunned the world when he unbanned political parties such as the Communist Party and the ANC. He also announced that he was going to free Mandela.
After being silenced in jail for 27 years, Nelson Mandela made his first speech at the Grand Parade in Cape Town on the 11th of February 1990.
Nelson Mandela and Cyril Ramaphosa led the ANC’s multi-party constitutional negotiations at Kempton Park on Gauteng’s East Rand. The protracted talks with the National Party and the country’s other political players experienced several hiccups that frustrated even Mandela.
On the 27th of April 1994, 75-year-old Nelson Mandela and millions of black South Africans voted for the first time in their lives.
New democratic symbols replaced the old apartheid ones. Mandela’s Cabinet was an all-inclusive one called the Government of National Unity. It was widely applauded for its reconciliatory policy between black and white South Africans. Mandela practised what he preached. He even invited the late Rivonia Trial prosecutor, Percy Yutar, to his house.
Under Nelson Mandela’s leadership, South Africa was welcomed back into the international fold, including the United Nations.
A big question mark was how one of the greatest political love stories would unfold. But Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s marriage couldn’t bear the strain of almost three decades of separation. By early 1996, their marriage was legally dissolved.
On his 80th birthday in mid-1998, Nelson Mandela married Mozambique’s former first lady, Graca Machel. They weren’t shy to share their love and affection for each other publicly.
In early 1999, Nelson Mandela voluntarily vacated the presidency after having served just one term of five years. He handed over the baton of both the ANC and the country to Thabo Mbeki. Mandela’s last official speech in Parliament was emotional.
In retirement, Nelson Mandela highlighted the plight of children and those living with HIV and Aids. Cyril Ramaphosa shared many private moments with him.
Sunday 8 December 2013 21:20