It seems like so long ago that Apartheid and South Africa were at the forefront of the world’s discussion and thoughts. As time passes, it’s easy to forget the incredible struggle for freedom and equality that took place within many of our lifetimes. Here, former President De Klerk remembers his first meeting with Nelson Mandela and the subsequent meetings, and ultimately, friendship, that developed over the years.
On October 15th, 1993, both Mandela and De Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at ending Apartheid. It was a moment of great hope. It was a moment of great calm. It was a moment when peace proved that it could prevail against overwhelming odds.
While racial discrimination is no longer the “law of the land” in South Africa, that is not to say that the country is without problems.
Xenophobia and racially motivated crime is becoming commonplace. I would hope that as people throughout South Africa celebrate Mandela’s accomplishments today that they would remember the South Africa Mandela fought for; the South Africa Steven Biko died for; and the South Africa that these men and so many others dedicated their lives to uniting in peace.
For more about the transition of South Africa and the philosophy Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to, watch this video of his historic speech delivered at Harvard University in 1998.
For more about the relationship between Nelson Mandela and President De Klerk, watch this video of President De Klerk discussing his relationship with Nelson Mandela at Oxford University in 2014.