BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WAND) - The former president of South Africa took a trip to the University of Illinois to speak to students about globalization.
"One third of the population still lives way beneath the bread line on $3 or less per day,” said F.W. De Klerk.
Among the many topics that plague third world countries, students had the opportunity to gain insight from De Klerk’s experience as president. However, there was one topic that reigned over the conversation: De Klerk officially freeing formal civil rights leader Nelson Mandela from prison.
Mandela was largely known as a political hero, but some of his theories threatened the way of the South African government during the 60’s. He was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy and sabotage to overthrow the government.
After spending 27 years in prison, Mandela was released and the new president of South Africa declared him a wrongfully convicted man. That president was De Klerk and WAND sat down with him to ask about that critical time in history.
"I, together with Mandela, oversaw the dismantlement of apartheid and when I handed over the presidency to Mandela in 1994, all the apartheid laws had been scrapped," explained De Klerk.
The former president also spoke about his country and the growing sense of democracy that he’s proud to have been a part of. Though he did say South Africa is much like America, it still has a way to go.
“We are all equal in God’s eyes,” he explained. "Discrimination should be eradicated and everybody according to his or her capacity and possibilities should be allowed to reach their peak. Stumbling blocks should be removed."
De Klerk told WAND that he jumps at the opportunity to enlighten today’s youth.