The road to freedom

photo of a man smiling in the rain

This man in Alexandra township remains cheerful despite torrential rain. Johannesburg, 1995 © Ian Berry/Magnum Photos

The growing worldwide condemnation of the apartheid regime and the unjust imprisonment of activists eventually destabilised the National Party's grip on power. Mandela was released from prison in 1990, after President FW de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC. Talks on forming a new multi-racial democracy for South Africa began and in 1994 Mandela became the country's first Black president.

South Africa has striven to move forward and become a leading African democracy. As part of this process the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, began hearings in 1996 on human rights crimes committed during the apartheid era. In the same year, on the 26th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, Nelson Mandela stood on the site of the massacre to announce the signing of the new democratic constitution. The day is now commemorated as South Africa's Human Rights Day.

Since the end of apartheid South Africa has become a leading economic power in the region and has tried to come to terms with its recent troubled past. This was highlighted in 2001 when Durban hosted the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.