Tuesday, 2 February 2010

This day in history: Apartheid Dismantled

ANC unbanned
Photo: Independent Newspapers Archive

“There are moments in history that become icons of their era, symbols of a shift in the world order. The liberation of Auschwitz, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the assassination of John F Kennedy, the liberation of Saigon, FW de Klerk's address to parliament 20 years ago this coming week” - IOL

I can barely believe that it was twenty years ago today that the then-President of South Africa gave the speech which effectively dismantled Apartheid. I was sixteen and in my last year of school and I can remember that huge feeling inside as we witnessed the end of an era. On February 2, 1990 FW de Klerk unbanned the African National Congress and 9 days later Nelson Mandela was released from prison after being incarcerated for 27 years.

South Africa is just one small country amongst many that had right-wing totalitarian regimes in the past but the specific oppression of people of colour in favour of a white conservative government meant that South Africa's struggle became a global symbol for the fight against racism, oppression and domination.

Mr de Klerk, I cannot thank you enough for changing my world and for making me proud to say that I am South African. I cannot even begin to explain how your bravery and your actions, together with those of Nelson Mandela, shaped my mind and made me realise that we need to carry the struggle worldwide and fight against evil in this world.  Thank you.

You can find out more about this momentous day by clicking the links below:

IOL photo gallery on the events of February 1990

FW de Klerk reflects on reaching the decision to release Mandela on this day 20 years ago

The day De Klerk changed course of history

De Klerk's speech changed our lives forever



  1. It was a monumental time and it did become symbolic of how real change is possible. How fortunate that you were witness to that part of history.

  2. I was 12 when this happened. Although at the time, I really had no clear understanding or appreciation for what was going on. I do now.

  3. @ Cher: I feel fortunate too!

    @ Lauren: I am glad! I enjoying making more sense of the world as I grow older.


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