Today in history:On This Day May 10th 1994, Nelson Mandela became first black president of South Africa

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Mandela casting his vote
Nelson Mandela is activist who became an international icon for human rights, fought against apartheid and for freedom of his people.

He was a well-educated man, having become a lawyer after attending university, something which no doubt helped him later when he fought against the poor treatment of black people in South Africa.

In 1944, he joined the African National Congress (ANC), a black political organisation that was committed to winning rights for black people in white-ruled South Africa.

Some years later, in 1948, the National Party came to power, and it was at that point that apartheid – a system of separating  whites and blacks – became official government policy.

This meant that blacks South Africa – who actually made up the majority of the population – were forced to live in separate areas from other South Africans (Whites)  and had to use separate public facilities, thus the black was isolated and treated like aliens. 

In 1990, South Africa’s President F. W. de Clerk started to dismantle apartheid, ordering Mandela’s release from prison.

The pair worked together to create a multi-racial government, jointly receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. On 10th April Mandela was inaugurated as the first black South African president.

He retired from politics in 1999, but remained a symbol of peace until his death in 2013.

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