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Ryan Irwin

South African Prime Minister (1978–1984) and executive state President (1984–1989), was born 12 January 1916 on a farm near the town of Paul Roux in Orange Free State. An Afrikaner by birth, Botha is commonly referred to as either “P.W.” or “Die Groot Krokodil” (The Great Crocodile). His parents, Pieter Willem and Hendrina, were influenced greatly by the South African War (Second Anglo-Boer War).

Upon completing his education in the early 1930s, Botha worked as a reporter and a National Party organizer in South Africa’s Western Province. He flirted briefly with a pro-Nazi organization named Ossewabrandwag in the years before World War II but ended his connections to the group in 1941. Following a stint as a government information officer during the war, Botha was elected to Parliament as a National Party representative in 1948 He was appointed Deputy Interior Minister ten years later ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Pieter Willem Botha was raised in a militantly nationalistic Afrikaner family in the Eastern Cape. His mother’s first husband was killed in the Boer War (1899–1902), in which his father also fought for the Boers. At an early age Botha himself became an Afrikaner nationalist, leaving the University of Orange Free State Law School in 1935 to help found the National Party. A year later he became public information officer for the party and served on the Sauer Commission, the agency that helped to formulate the National Party’s racial program.

In 1948 Botha proved instrumental in helping D. F. Malan and the National Party come to power. That year he won a seat in Parliament, representing the Eastern Cape district of George. As a reward for party loyalty, Botha was appointed to a series of cabinet positions in the apartheid-era governments of Hendrik Verwoerd and Balthazar Johannes Vorster ...

Article

Chris Saunders

the last state president of apartheid South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born in Johannesburg on 18 March 1936, the son of a leading National Party (NP) politician. Widely known, from his initials, as F. W., the younger de Klerk practiced law before entering politics. After being elected as a member of Parliament for the Vereeniging constituency in 1972, he rose rapidly through the ranks of the NP until he became leader of the party in early 1989 and state president in September that year. He held that position until May 1994, when Nelson Mandela succeeded him. He then became one of two deputy-presidents under Mandela until mid-1996, when he left the government of national unity and became leader of the opposition in Parliament. He retired as leader of the NP and from politics in September 1997.

De Klerk was a key figure in ...

Article

F. W. De Klerk was born to an Afrikaner family with a long history of involvement in South African politics. His own political career began during adolescence, when he joined the youth section of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party.

In 1958 De Klerk received a law degree from Potchef- stroom University. He practiced law in Veereniging from 1961 until 1972, all the while serving as chairman of the local chapter of the National Party. He then abandoned his law career and became a member of Parliament in South Africa. De Klerk rose quickly through the party’s rank and file, with appointments to numerous cabinet posts. As a minister he had little patience for antiapartheid protests but was known as a conciliator within the party.

After South African president Pieter Willem Botha had a heart attack in 1989 De Klerk became the leader of the National Party Later that ...

Article

The first black president of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became a worldwide symbol of resistance to the injustice of his country’s Apartheid system. Imprisoned for more than twenty-seven years, and before that banned from all public activity and hounded by police for nearly a decade, Mandela led a struggle for freedom that mirrored that of his black compatriots. After his 1990 release from Victor Verster prison, his work to end apartheid won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize (which he shared with South African president F. W. de Klerk) and then the presidency itself a year later.

Mandela’s father, Chief Henry Mandela, was a member of the Thembu people’s royal lineage; his mother was one of the chief’s four wives. Mandela was born in Mvezo, Umtata, but grew up in Qunu, a small village in what is now the Eastern Cape Province At the age of ...

Article

former president of South Africa (1994–1999), African National Congress (ANC) leader, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born on 18 July 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo near Mthatha in rural Transkei The youngest of four sons he imbibed ideas of honor and humaneness and stories of resistance to white invasion from his Xhosa culture clan and family Descended from a minor or Left Hand royal house of the Thembu people his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa served as councilor to the Thembu paramount chief but after protesting aspects of white domination was deposed as village headman by the government After his father s early death Mandela was groomed for a local leadership role by the paramount regent Jongintaba Mandela s given name was Rolihlahla troublemaker and his clan name Madiba reconciler would remain a praise name and term of affection in years to come symbolizing his ...

Article

Sara Byala

second president of post-apartheid South Africa, was born on 18 June 1942 in Mbewuleni, the Eastern Cape. The eldest son and second child of Govan and Epainette Mbeki (née Moerane), Thabo was born into a world of activism. His parents were missionary-educated communists who believed in both uplifting their brethren and the power of education. Mbeki’s early childhood was spent helping tend his parents’ store and engaging in the political debates that prevailed in their book-filled home.

At 8, Mbeki was sent to his uncle in Queenstown to receive a better education; at 10, he was moved to Butterworth. In 1955 at age 12 he entered the famed Lovedale school as part of the last generation to receive missionary education before the advent of Bantu Education that year Alongside academic achievements Mbeki became politically active He rose quickly within the Lovedale branch of the ANC Youth League applying his ...

Article

Robert Fay

Daniel arap Moi was born in Karing’wo village in the Baringo Rift Valley District of Kenya. He is a member of the Tugen, a subgroup of the Kalenjin, a relatively small ethnic group famous for producing many of Kenya’s champion long-distance runners. Moi has displayed a different kind of stamina. President from 1978 to 2002 , he was also a longtime legislator in Kenya, joining the Legislative Council (now the National Assembly) in 1955 and retaining his seat two years later in Kenya’s first elections. Previously, Moi worked as a schoolteacher, rising to become headmaster of the Kabarnet Intermediate School in 1948, where he taught many current members of the National Assembly.

In 1960 Moi was one of the Kenyan representatives to the Lancaster House Conference in London where the terms of Kenyan independence were negotiated Shortly afterward he became the national chairman for the Kenya ...