On this day in 1994, Nelson Mandela rejected the demand by white minority right-wingers for a separate homeland in South Africa.
The ANC chief, 75 at the time, rejected the demand and said, “As long as I live, there will never be a Volkstaat in this country.”
The demand for a white homeland was put forth by the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), led by white farmer Eugene Terre’Blanche, who threatened civil war if President F.W. de Klerk handed over power to Mandela.
The AWB rejected calls to participate in the nation’s first multiracial elections scheduled for April. Instead, they voted to establish their own Transitional Assembly — a government-in-waiting that would work to create an all-white nation within the boundaries of South Africa, with violence if necessary.
“Nothing, but nothing, can stop the Afrikaner from obtaining his freedom,” Terre’Blanche said at a rally attended by an estimated 10,000 men, women and children, many of whom carried guns.
Aside from the most radical of the group’s leaders, many Afrikaners simply feared what sort of life a post-Apartheid South Africa would hold for them, despite attempts by Mandela to allay their fears.
Terre’Blanche didn’t follow through with his threat to plunge the nation into civil war. He spent three years in a Rooigrond prison for assaulting a petrol station attendant and for the attempted murder of a black security guard around 1996. He was released in June 2004. On April 3, 2010, he was hacked and beaten to death on his Ventersdorp farm, allegedly by two of his employees. Conservative Afrikaners suggested, however, that the killing was one of many farm invasions taking place in South Africa.
Mandela died in December 2013 at the ripe old age of 95.