chapter  7
Beyond Apartheid: Nationalizing the 'New' South Africa
Pages 19

In the last week of April 1994 South Africa's peoples went to the polls together for the first time to elect a new government. Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer described the election as a 'sacred moment'. The apparently simple act of marking the ballot paper, she said, was 'a resurrection... from the burial of all human aspiration and dignity under the humiliation of discrimination by race and skin'. For the first time in history, black people had 'the right ... to govern themselves'.2 Since that week South Africans have joined together in national celebrations on three other occasions. A fortnight after the first all-inclusive democratic election South Africans watched the inauguration of president Nelson Mandela and the government of national unity: 10 May 1994 marked the end of 342 years of white domination and the beginning of black rule. Perhaps the most enduring memory of that day is of the ordinary black spectators who cheered airforce planes as they passed overhead and then swarmed over police armoured vehicles. Blacks now claimed these once reviled instruments of white power as their own. Indeed, a black president and black ministers proved black ownership.