Frederik Willem de Klerk

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Frederik Willem de Klerk (born 18 March 1936), often known as F. W. de Klerk, was the seventh and last State President of apartheid-era South Africa, serving from September 1989 to May 1994. De Klerk was also leader of the National Party (which later became the New National Party) from February 1989 to September 1997.

De Klerk is best known for engineering the end of apartheid, South Africa's racial segregation policy, and supporting the transformation of South Africa into a multi-racial democracy by entering into the negotiations that resulted in all citizens, including the country's black majority, having equal voting and other rights. He won Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1991, Prince of Asturias Awards in 1992 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with Nelson Mandela for his role in the ending of apartheid.

He was one of the Deputy Presidents of South Africa during the presidency of Nelson Mandela until 1996, the last white person to hold the position to date. In 1997, he retired from politics.



The name 'De Klerk' (literally meaning "the clerk" in Dutch) is derived from Le Clerc, Le Clercq, and De Clercq and is of French Huguenot origin,[1] as a great numbers of other Afrikaans surnames, reflecting the French Huguenot refugees who settled in the Cape beginning in the seventeenth century alongside the Dutch, after they escaped religious persecution in France. De Klerk noted that he is of Dutch descent.[2][3]

Early career

Born in Johannesburg to parents Jan de Klerk and Corrie Coetzer, De Klerk came from a family environment in which the conservatism of traditional white South African politics was deeply ingrained. His great-grandfather[who?] was a Senator, his grandfather[who?] stood twice for the white parliament unsuccessfully, and his aunt was married to NP Prime Minister J. G. Strijdom. In 1948, the year when the NP swept to power in whites-only elections on an apartheid platform, F. W. de Klerk's father, Johannes "Jan" de Klerk, became secretary of the NP in the Transvaal province and later rose to the positions of cabinet minister and President of the Senate.[4] His brother Willem is a liberal newspaperman and one of the founders of the Democratic Party. De Klerk matriculated from Monument High School in Krugersdorp. De Klerk graduated in 1958 from the Potchefstroom University with BA and LL.B degrees (the latter cum laude). Following graduation, De Klerk practiced law in Vereeniging in the Transvaal. In 1959 he married Marike Willemse, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.[5]

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