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Wed, 06.01.1994

South Africa Rejoins The Commonwealth

Nelson Mandela and Michael Manley

*On this date in 1994, South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth after an absence of 33 years. Their exclusion was based on international pressure against racism.

Before the rejoining, their laws had always been discriminatory and humiliating against non-whites and Black Africans in particular.  White-African laws were then expanded into the rigid, police-state-like system of Apartheid. By 1960, with African colonies becoming independent, the harsh racist principles and rhetoric of the Boers, all too reminiscent of Hitler, had grown into a global embarrassment. In 1961, after condemnation at a Commonwealth Conference, the Union of South Africa was turned into a Republic.

It left the Commonwealth to live under international hostility through the '60s, '70s, and '80s until a peaceful transition to majority rule in 1994. Whether the new South Africa will be able to remain peaceful is not completely real.  Already with a very high crime rate, the precedence of neighboring Zimbabwe, with one-party rule and the increasing expropriation of white farms, usually by informal violence, the future, though better, was not reassuring.

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