F.W. de Klerk
Frederik Willem (F.W.) de Klerk was a typical Afrikaans boy. Born in Johannesburg on 18 March 1936, he matriculated from his Krugersdorp High School and continued his studies in Potchefstroom. Little did his family or his peers know that De Klerk would become a humanitarian hero directly responsible for putting an end to apartheid.
After obtaining his law degree in 1958, De Klerk joined a Vereeniging law firm. During his years in Vereeniging he became actively involved in politics, where he later on also became a Member of Parliament in 1972. His election to parliament started a political career that would change the fate of a nation.
F.W. de Klerk was appointed to the Cabinet in 1978, responsible for portfolios that included National Education in a time where segregated universities were the order of the day. His political career continued to flourish and he was elected leader of the House of Assembly in 1986.
In 1989 apartheid president P.W. Botha resigned from his position as president for health reasons. De Klerk was appointed Acting State President and elected to the highest office later in the same year.
The presidency put De Klerk in a position that would allow him to bring an end to apartheid and become a historically significant humanitarian figure. In his new position, he called for a non-racist South Africa, lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC) and released Nelson Mandela.
For his part in the abolition of apartheid, humanitarian icon F.W. de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, sharing the accolade with Mandela, the man who would succeed him as president of South Africa in 1994.
De Klerk paved the way for the drafting of a new constitution. During South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, power went to the ANC and De Klerk became deputy president of South Africa. He retired from politics in 1997.