The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
In this op-ed, first published in the Daily Maverick, Foundation board member Jay Naidoo reflects on the recent passing of former South African President FW de Klerk and what it means for the country.
Let us liberate ourselves from the prison of bitterness, acknowledge our mistakes and reimagine a different country by working towards the realisation of all the dreams and hopes we had in 1994. Then De Klerk’s passing will be a more significant milestone in our country’s history.
Below is an excerpt; read the full piece here.
FW de Klerk has died. And his passage has unleashed a cacophony of pent-up emotions that for nearly three decades we have swept under the carpet. A festering sore has broken and its pus oozes painfully into our public debate.
But De Klerk is just a proxy for the state of our democratic project.
The key question is: who stole our revolution?
I have never been social friends with De Klerk.
In the 1980s we were fierce opponents in a deadly struggle to reclaim our human dignity and the right to elect the leaders we wanted. Our demand was crisply encapsulated by our slogan, “One person, one vote in a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.” It captured our imagination and galvanised a mass struggle within South Africa, driven by young people coming out of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings — the watershed to a new era of militant activism.
Globally, the anti-apartheid movements mobilised millions into action in people-to-people solidarity even when the Western governments of the Reagan/Thatcher axis of neoliberalism saw the apartheid state as an ally and a bulwark against communism.