Nelson Mandela was elected the first Black leader of South Africa after the country had its first free multiracial elections. F.W. De Klerk became one of the Deputy Premiers..
Nelson Mandela's election in 1994 as the first Black president of South Africa was the culmination of years of struggle against the apartheid regime, a policy that had been in place since 1948. Apartheid was a system that legally and systematically enforced racial segregation and discrimination against the non-White majority in favor of the minority White population.
Mandela, a member of the African National Congress (ANC), had been an active opponent of apartheid since the 1940s. His activities led to his arrest in 1962, followed by a life sentence in 1964 for his role in planning sabotage against the apartheid government. He spent 27 years in prison, mostly in the notorious Robben Island.
During the 1980s, both internal and international pressures against the apartheid system intensified. Civil unrest, coupled with international sanctions and divestment, started to cripple the South African economy.
In 1989, F.W. De Klerk became the President of South Africa. Recognizing the unsustainability of apartheid and the increasing global condemnation, De Klerk began to dismantle the apparatus of apartheid. In 1990, he made a groundbreaking move by releasing Nelson Mandela from prison. This set the stage for negotiations between the ruling National Party and the ANC, among other groups, to transition the country to a multiracial democracy.
The negotiations were fraught with challenges, including political violence and disagreements over the constitution's nature. However, after years of discussions, the country held its first free multiracial elections in 1994.
The ANC won a decisive victory in these elections, and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first Black president on May 10, 1994. In a gesture of national unity and reconciliation, Mandela formed a Government of National Unity. F.W. De Klerk, as the leader of the National Party, was appointed as one of the Deputy Presidents, reflecting the collaborative spirit Mandela hoped to bring to the new South Africa.
Mandela's election heralded a new era for South Africa, marking the end of decades of racial oppression and the beginning of a journey towards healing and rebuilding.