From 1948 to 1994, South African politics were dominated by Afrikaner nationalism. Racial segregation and white minority rule known officially as apartheid came into existence in 1960 and become an official law of segregation when South Africa become a Republic, an Afrikaans word meaning “separateness”.
But on this day in 1994, the history of South Africa was changed when the country held its first general elections where everyone of voting age of over 18 from any race group, including foreign citizens permanently resident in South Africa, were allowed to vote.
The regime of apartheid was over and the struggle of one of the greatest men in history, Nelson Mandela whose crime was standing up against a government that was committing egregious human rights abuses against black South Africans was coming to an end.
In the first commemoration of the holiday, President Nelson Mandela had this to say:
“As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life
of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.”