Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


DLS speaker addresses apartheid, morality

University of Wisconsin students and Madison citizens waited in a line wrapped around the block from the Orpheum Theater Wednesday to see the second speaker in the UW”s Distinguished Lecturer Series, former South Africa president F.W. de Klerk.

De Klerk, also recognized as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a former Time Magazine Man of the Year, spoke at the theater last night.

DLS continued their new season with a speech by a man whose entire presidency, as Yale University”s “Truth and Light” puts it, “was dedicated to the peaceful transition to a non–racial and fully democratic constitutional system.”

De Klerk was elected president of South Africa in 1989 by what was then a white minority ruling system.

Despite heavy controversy, early into his term he lifted a ban on the African National Congress, which was representative of the black majority population. De Klerk subsequently freed Nelson Mandela, their hero, from prison. In later events, de Klerk lost his next presidential election to Mandela by entrenching the basic human right of “one person, one vote,” and South African apartheid was effectively ended.

De Klerk spent most of his speech discussing the climate and attitudes that led up to the revolutionary changes in his country.

“Homo sapiens are defined by change,” he said. “They have the unique ability to change their environment.”

De Klerk signified that the most radical changes in South Africa occurred in economic growth and social development among the black majority, the ruling party and the international community.

“The answers laid in development, development, development,” he emphasized.

Oppressive governments, de Klerk said, “think of brilliant new ways of doing the wrong thing better.” With the growth in the importance of blacks” position in the marketplace, de Klerk said he realized that “real power does not grow out of the barrels of AK–47s” but in education.

“Most of history is our changing economic relationships leading to our changing social relationships,” de Klerk added.

Addressing the challenges America faces after Sept. 11, de Klerk warned that a country should strive to always maintain morality.

“History awards no prizes to leaders who know the right answers,” de Klerk said. “The object is to do things correctly.”

“At the end of the Cold War the world was on a high road. Now, pessimism has gripped. The international community needs to find the way to the high road again.”

Audience member Leah Mirakhor agreed with de Klerk”s views on economic development, but was concerned that the country”s rules have changed.

“The psychology of the country”s changed,” Mirakhor said.

Sandy Welander, another audience member, also felt some of de Klerk”s views were lacking.

“I”m excited to hear him speak about change,” Welander said. “But I”m disappointed in the way he answered some audience questions about the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, debt forgiveness and AIDS. I”m disappointed to hear him advocating that these issues should be dealt with in the same manner.”

In reference to Iraq, de Klerk did admit to advocating strong action against those who refuse to comply with international rules. However, he also advised that the two sides communicate with one another before making hasty decisions.

“I”m impressed, almost surprised at how much he struggled,” said Shawn Langley, a UW student who was born in South Africa. “It”s a sign of real strength in a person.”

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