However, the factor which I think played the most important part in the ending of apartheid was releasing ANC leader Nelson Mandela in 1990. Not only did it symbolise a fresh start for the country, but also a new found uniformity of its people.
At the time, this move by the government was quite unexpected, but in retrospect, an inevitability. The prime minister of South Africa in 1989 was PW. Botha, however after having a stroke, and being forced into bitter resignation, was replaced by FW de Klerk. De Klerk was commonly thought to be conservative and agree with segregation but his first speech announced plans to legalise the ANC, PAC and SACP and also that political prisoners would be released. He said he wanted to work with political groups to form a new constitution for South Africa.
Although De Klerk's decision was a great step forward for blacks, there were many possible reasons for his drastic change in government. A journalist in Cape Town at the time wondered if De Klerk fully realised what he was doing. Perhaps De Klerk thoguht he could remain in power by sharing it with the ANC. There were also economic pressures; business men were meeting with the ANC and liking them. De Klerk was practical as he was trained as a lawyer, and also religious. Apparently his brother had said he thought God had chosen him to lead South Africa at a crossroads'.
However, the most probable reason was that apartheid was no longer practical or possible to maintain in the country. This underlying fact had been brought about by several events.
Fourteen years prior to Mandela's release in 1976 school pupils had rioted in Soweto, the result of which had been many deaths amongst the children. The cause of the...