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This month in history

Madiba inaugurated to lead SA

On 10 May 1994 South Africans witnessed Nelson Mandela being sworn in as the country’s first black president.

This triumphant moment in history was preceded by the first national democratic elections on 27 April 1994, in which 22 million South Africans cast their votes for the first time.

The majority chose former President Mandela and the African National Congress to lead the country, with the party winning 253 of 400 seats.

President Mandela replaced outgoing President and National Party leader  F.W. de Klerk, after being unanimously voted in as President by Parliament in Cape Town on 9 May, 1994.

After centuries of oppression under the apartheid government, South Africa was finally free. President Mandela spent 27 years of his life as a political prisoner, with 18 of these on Robben Island.

On the eve of the inauguration, both outgoing and incoming presidents called for reconciliation in the new South Africa.

The inauguration took place at the Union Buildings’ amphitheatre in Pretoria and was attended by politicians and dignitaries, from over 140 countries around the world.

In his inaugural address, President Mandela declared, “The time for the healing of the wounds has come.  The moment to bridge the rifts that divide us has come, the time to build is upon us. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.”