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1990: Remembering the end of apartheid
When South Africa's President FW de Klerk announced the ban on the African National Congress would be lifted, supporters of the ANC - both black and white - came out onto the streets of Johannesburg to celebrate.

The ANC flag was displayed with pride by Nelson Mandela's followers, anticipating his imminent release after 27 years.

Your memories of a defining moment in South African history

At the time I had been living in South Africa for several years.

The announcement took many people by surprise but at the same time most people felt that it was overdue.

There was a core of people who were very against the decision. The average (white) person on the street basically welcomed the announcement whilst at the same time they were afraid of what the future would bring.

Those were the years of change and hope for the future of a beautiful country
Richard Walls, Bahrain
They could see the end of their lifestyle but also a more peaceful future.

This announcement led to the referendum and then to the elections.

The road was not a smooth one. The negotiations at the world Trade Centre, next to Jan Smuts Airport (now Johannesburg International) with the riots and demonstrations. Probably the most famous being the attack by the AWB.

They were interesting times, culminating in the elections, where white stood beside black, expats stood beside citizens.

Those were the years of change and hope for the future of a beautiful country.
Richard Walls, Bahrain

As a white girl brought up in a home that fought racism from the beginning, and living in a primarily black/Indian country, it is incredibly hard for me to understand how anyone can judge a human being on the grounds of his/her appearance.

Sometimes I have to fight the feelings of shame building up in me when I think of the cruel deeds that my race has done, and that in the name of God.

But I have made a vow to turn that shame into action and actively fight against all forms of racism.

I am very proud of the progress that my country has made, even though there still is a long way to go.

Let us pray for more leaders like Nelson Mandela, who forgave wholly and worked for change without holding any grudges.
Magdelien Spies, South Africa (living in Guyana)

I was a student at a high school in Johannesburg - in the 11th grade. Our school was a private school, and so under apartheid laws was permitted to admit students of all races.

We were a little scared and giddy, knowing that this change was irreversible and things would never be the same again
David, South Africa
For some reason, my English teacher tuned his small FM radio to the opening of parliament speech during class - he somehow knew that something was afoot.

We were all amazed and excited when we heard what FW de Klerk said: this was history in the making.

I suppose we were also a little scared and giddy, knowing that this change was irreversible and things would never be the same again.

After the class, I told the first black student I saw - even though I didn't know him very well - what had happened and that it was all over.

He seemed happy and surprised, but was much calmer than I thought he would be - certainly much calmer than I was.

I remember too when Nelson Mandela was released. I was in a car with my family going to visit my grandmother who lived in another suburb of Johannesburg.

We drove under an underpass and up a hill - a blind rise - only to be met by a massive wall of black people, running as fast as their legs would carry them, out of the city center and straight towards our car.

There was nothing we could do. My father stopped the car, and we were, frankly, terrified: this was a new world for us. We were amazed when one of the first people to pass us stood in front of our car and waved the runners past.

When the crowd had thinned, we drove on, silently thinking about what had happened. We were very grateful: the good-will of the crowd (who were celebating Nelson Mandela's release) was a good omen for the future.
David, South Africa

On February 2, 1990 I had just finished my Masters degree, had been married for three weeks and was not yet working.

De Klerk's election as National Party leader had been a disappointment as he was from the conservative side of the party.

I did not listen to the opening of Parliament speech as we expected nothing new so what he said and did came as a complete surprise.

The next week, on honeymoon, we sat for hours watching TV, waiting for Nelson Mandela to walk free and for the building of the new South Africa to begin.
Keith Ashley, Canada

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Helen Suzman and Nelson Mandela
Mr Mandela hugs anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman days after his release


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