South Africa holds first multiracial elections

More than 22 million South Africans turn out to cast ballots in the country’s first multiracial parliamentary elections. An overwhelming majority chose anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela to head a new coalition government that included his African National Congress Party, former President F.W. de Klerk’s National Party, and Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party. In May, Mandela was inaugurated as president, becoming South Africa’s first Black head of state.

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In 1944, Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest Black political organization in South Africa, where he became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1952, he became deputy national president of the ANC, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid–South Africa’s institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation. However, after the massacre of peaceful Black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Mandela helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.