Nelson Mandela, Frederik Willem de Klerk

Nobel Peace Prize 1993

Nelson Mandela

   (1918-2013)

Africa's greatest freedom symbol

Son of a chief, Nelson Mandela studied law and became one of South Africa's first black lawyers. Early in the 1950s he was elected leader of the youth wing of the ANC (African National Congress) liberation movement. When the country's white minority government prohibited the ANC in 1960, Mandela became convinced that armed struggle was inevitable. Inspired by the guerrilla wars in Algeria and Cuba, he organized a military underground movement that engaged in sabotage. In 1962 he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason and conspiracy against the state.From 1964 to 1982 he was confined to the notorious prison island Robben Island, together with several other resistance leaders. He was then moved to prison on the mainland until his release in 1990. During his imprisonment, Mandela became a rallying point for South Africa's oppressed, and the world's most famous political prisoner.Nelson Mandela shared the Peace Prize with the man who had released him, President Frederik Willem de Klerk, because they had agreed on a peaceful transition to majority rule.

Frederik Willem de Klerk

(1936-)

From apartheid to majority rule

In 1990 South Africa's President Frederik Willem de Klerk decided to release Nelson Mandela, leader of the liberation movement, who had been in prison since 1963. Following the release, the two politicians worked together to bring an end to the policy of racial segregation. It was for his participation in this peace process that de Klerk was awarded the Peace Prize in 1993.When de Klerk took office as President in 1989, no one expected him to play a key part in the termination of apartheid. Both as a lawyer, as a parliamentarian, and as a member of the government he had stood out as a firm upholder of white privilege. But when he realized that the apartheid system was leading to both economic and political bankruptcy, he put himself at the head of a radical change of course. He continued the negotiations with Mandela and the ANC liberation movement, which had begun in secret. They agreed to prepare for a presidential election and to draw up a new constitution with equal voting rights for every population group in the country.