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The legacy of the late FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president

Africanews journalist Micheal Oduor on FW de Klerk's legacy 11 November 2021, euronews studios Lyon   -  
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South Africa

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The death at eighty five of South Africa's last apartheid president Frederik Willem de Klerk, the man who oversaw the demise of the country's white minority rule. His foundation says he had been suffering from cancer for some time. Michael he was a seminal figure in South Africa's transition to democracy, of course. But what kind of man was FW de Klerk?

Micheal Oduor: When we take a look at who de Klerk was to the South African and even to the whole world, I think he would be remembered for being the champion amongst the people who actually helped stop the apartheid system in South Africa.

And well, of course, if you remember, the apartheid system was one of the system that tried to separate the blacks and whites in South Africa.

Also something that we can remember from this icon in South Africa is that he also helped put an end to single party system in South Africa. Before we had the National Party, which was predominantly owned by the minority of whites in South Africa right before the independence in 1994 when the Blacks took charge.

De Klerk became the president of South Africa in 1989. He helped champion the multi-party system, whereby the likes of African National Congress Party, the ANC that is the ruling party now came into the system. And one last thing that we also will remember about him was that he helped release Nelson Mandela from prison. That was in 1990. And this is something that actually South Africans and the whole world will have to remember from this South African icon.

Tokunbo Salako: I remember myself or recall those pictures of, you know, that remarkable moment. Also when he announced that Nelson Mandela would be set free after spending so many years in prison on Robben Island. What do you think his overriding legacy is going to be? How's African looking at him?

Micheal Oduor: Well, let's take a look at to him, maybe into details. Back in 1993, alongside Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace price.

And it was actually something that really surprised the world and the people welcomed this in South Africa. That is perhaps a recognition of his efforts for the opening of the path to reconciliation between the blacks and the whites in South Africa.

Later on, they even had this coalition government with the ANC- the National Party that was mainly dominated by the White and the ANC that was mainly dominated by the blacks led by Nelson Mandela. They formed a unity government, and this led to the unity in South Africa between the the two races.

And apart from that, you realise that Willem de Klerk also helped in championing democracy in South Africa. He helped to oversee the very first democratic election in 1994.

He would be remembered as one of the last white president in South Africa, which actually symbolised the end of apartheid rule, which was one of the dark days in South Africa.

You know on twitter I have seen some South Africans actually talking and taking a look at some of their reaction and on Facebook, I see many sending their condolences and paying tributes but also some negative reactions. Some say they remember him as maybe someone who was trying to protect the the dark days of South Africa.

They saw him as one who was covertly championing this apartheid system. Some also described him as one who tried to protect those who worked behind the apartheid system. And these are some of the few controversies maybe he had later on in his life including with some recent controversial statements he made when he refused to classify apartheid as a crime against humanity.

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