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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- F.W. de Klerk, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who as president of South Africa freed Nelson Mandela and helped end apartheid, will be the inaugural speaker of the new Bucknell Forum series, “Global Leadership: Questions for the 21st Century.”
De Klerk will give the talk, “Bridging the Gap: Globalization without Isolation,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. The event will be free and open to the public.
Following a career in South African government, Frederik Willem de Klerk was elected president in 1989. He immediately began calling for a nonracist government and was instrumental in dismantling the country’s century-old system of apartheid, despite intense and violent resistance from the country’s white population. He lifted the ban on the African National Congress and other opposition parties, and in 1990 released Nelson Mandela from prison, where Mandela had been held for 28 years.
End to apartheid
De Klerk’s leadership brought apartheid to its end and led to the adoption of South Africa’s first fully democratic constitution, leading to a multiracial government in 1993. Mandela succeeded de Klerk as president in 1994, and de Klerk became one of two vice presidents in a government of national unity.
Mandela and de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.” Mandela and de Klerk also shared the Philadelphia Peace Prize that year, and in 2002, President Thabo Mbeki bestowed them the order of Mapungubwe: Gold in honor of their exceptional contribution to the process of peace, national reconciliation and nation-building in South Africa.
De Klerk previously was awarded the Prix du Courage Internationale (The Prize for Political Courage) and the UNESCO Houphouet-Boigny Prize.
Since his retirement from government in 1997, de Klerk has run The Global Leadership Foundation, a group of former heads-of-state who assist world leaders by offering impartial advice on peace, democracy, economic development and political challenges. He published his autobiography, The Last Trek – A New Beginning, in 1999.
Check back at www.bucknell.edu/theforum for updates on his talk and the “Global Leadership” series.
Contact: Division of Communications