10 May 1994: Nelson Mandela sworn in as SA’s first democratic president
6 months ago
10 May is an historic day in South Africa – Nelson Mandela took office on this day 25 years ago.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”