Thu. Nov 21st, 2019

10 May 1994: Nelson Mandela sworn in as SA’s first democratic president

Nelson Mandela Inauguration10 May is an historic day in South Africa – Nelson Mandela took office on this day 25 years ago.

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It’s been 25 years since Nelson Mandela took office. He became South Africa’s first democratically elected president on 10 May 1994.

Moreover, Nelson Mandela took office after the ANC came out victorious in the 1994 elections, held on 27 April and he was dubbed as the ‘father of the nation.’

His inauguration speech was the final chapter in South Africa’s political transition, which began with the country’s last white president releasing Mandela from prison in 1990.

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South Africa’s new President Nelson Mandela (C) stands at attention as the national anthem is played during his inauguration at the Union Building in Pretoria 10 May 1994. Pictured on his right, new Vice-President Thabo Mbeki, and on his left, his daughter Zinani. Photo: AFP/Walter Dhladhla

A new South African beginning

Furthermore, Mandela said in his inauguration speech that our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice. He added:

“We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our soil.”

11 February 1990: The day Nelson Mandela was released from prison [photos]

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South African workers prepare to mount the new South African flag in Pretoria 06 May 1994, at the Union Building in preparation for the inauguration of President-designate Nelson Mandela on 10 May 1994.
WALTER DHLADHLA / AFP

A South Africa united under Nelson Mandela

He concluded his speech by saying that South Africans understand it was no easy road to freedom. In addition, none of us “acting alone can achieve success.”

“We must, therefore, act together as a united people. For national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all, let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.”

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PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat (L) and Colin Powell, former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, embrace as they meet at ceremonies marking South African President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration 10 May 1994 in Pretoria. The two men were among the representatives of 160 countries who attended the inauguration.
WALTER DHLADHLA / AFP

Forgiveness and reconciliation

Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the Robben Island Prison. In June 1990 he retired from politics at the age of 80. His last major appearance on the global stage came in 2010 at the soccer World Cup final. 

Reconciliation was also the dominant theme of his presidency. From donning the green Springbok jersey to taking tea with his former jailers, as well as visiting Betsie Verwoerd in Orania.

“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.”

Also read – Artwork from Nelson Mandela’s private collection for sale in New York

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African National Congress (ANC) President Nelson Mandela (C) greets Cuban Olympic boxer Teofilo Stevenson (L) 25 July 1991 in Havana. Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) inaugurated the opening of the Panamerican Games village.
(FILM) AFP PHOTO/RAFAEL PEREZ
RAFAEL PEREZ / AFP

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A supporter waves an ANC flag during Nelson Mandela’s inauguration 10 May 1994 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. HANNER FRANKENFELD / AFP
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Cuban president Fidel Castro (L) gets a quick photographic lesson from photographers before Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, 10 May 1994 in Pretoria, as first democratically-elected president. KEVIN CARTER / AFP

Also read – London exhibition of Nelson Mandela’s personal artefacts shares his mission of peace

Also read – Margaret Thatcher meeting Nelson Mandela

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