“I Ended Apartheid”

Twenty years ago today, FW de Klerk addressed South Africa’s parliament and stunned it and the rest of the world by ending 41 years of Apartheid.

Twenty years ago today, FW de Klerk addressed South Africa’s parliament and stunned it and the rest of the world by ending 41 years of Apartheid. The press were gathered as everyone was expecting de Klerk to announce that Nelson Mandela was to be freed. "In fact de Klerk had no intention of freeing Mandela that day. He had something even bigger on his mind, something he knew would take even the keenest observers of his presidential style by surprise. As MPs, ambassadors and other dignitaries gathered for the formal opening of parliament, only a handful of cabinet ministers were in the know, and they had been sworn not even to tell their wives – de Klerk only confided in his wife Marike on the way to parliament that morning. De Klerk, in the job since September 1989, was about to announce the official end of apartheid, the system which the National Party, which included his Afrikaner forebears, had given birth to 41 years before and whose brutality and injustice millions had demonstrated against in every capital in the free world. He wanted maximum impact and publicity for his speech, which he had been working on for months, and he didn't want the distraction of Mandela's pending release getting in the way of it."

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