FW de Klerk: forgotten hero

Attie Heunis with FW de Klerk
Attie Heunis with FW de Klerk
With FW de Klerk being in a very serious condition at present, I felt I have to write something about this remarkable man. Because of FW’s “side” in a racially divided South-Africa many people don’t realise that FW played an immeasurable role in bringing about democracy in South Africa.

Put simply; without FW there would not have been a peaceful transition to democracy in South-Africa. FW’s unquestionable passion and dedication for democracy is very rarely acknowledged or even known of outside South-Africa. Many people still think that FW was someone who tried to stop or delay democracy when nothing could be further from the truth.

When FW came into power he started moving towards democracy as soon as he realistically could. Amid much controversy he revoked laws against ANC & other memberships and he was the first who officially started talking with the ANC & other parties.

But to me his real contribution was in the way that he persuaded the white eloctorate that giving up power was the right thing to do. He was a true leader in this respect. He communicated to the white population in South-Africa like no-one else could. He let them (I should say “us”, but I was already “converted”) understand why democracy is imperative and he also calmed their fears. Remember this was a major major change for South Africa. The US or Western Europe haven’t experienced this kind of change for 150 and 160 years respectively. And in both those cases many many lives were lost.

In 1994 when he finally handed over the reigns to Nelson Mandela as an inevitable result of his own work he did so gracefully and responsibly. There were no lives lost directly as a result of the transition – a miracle indeed.

This is why he was acknowledged by the Nobel Peace Prize committee as well as being honoured by many people and institutions including Nelson Mandela himself.

To me FW is unquestionably one of South Africa’s greatest sons and an Afrikaner to be immensely proud of.

I was fortunate enough to meet FW at a South-African Golf Day in London.

Also visit the FW de Klerk Foundation.

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