Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mandela Gets Formal Nod as President

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mandela Gets Formal Nod as President

Article excerpt

A new Parliament as multicolored as the nation chose Nelson Mandela as the first black president of South Africa on Monday. To delirious cheers, Mandela accepted his people's salute from the same balcony where he spoke after emerging from prison four years ago.

Grown men cried and white police officers clapped as Mandela, 75, who has promised a South Africa for "all its people, black and white," stepped forth to receive the adulation of 50,000 people spread out on Cape Town's grand parade.

"The people of South Africa have spoken in these elections. They want change! And change is what they will get," Mandela said. "Our plan is to create jobs, promote peace and reconciliation and to guarantee freedom for all South Africans.

"We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table, not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered."

Although Mandela promised change, he said that "the task at hand will not be easy."

"But you have mandated us to change South Africa from a country in which the majority lived with little hope to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future."

The crowd sang, "South Africa, we love you, our beautiful land," to the beat of the "Peace Song," a pop tune that has become the anthem of the country's transition from apartheid to democracy.

A sea of arms swayed back and forth to the music as the new multihued South African flag - red, blue, black, green, gold and white - fluttered in the fresh sea breeze of a picture-perfect autumn day in the Southern Hemisphere.

The crowd cried, "We are free today, we are free today," in response to cheerleading by Archbishop Desmond Tutu - a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his part in the black struggle - with their arms raised in a waving forest of V-for-Victory salutes.

In a show of reconciliation, Mandela and his main black rival, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Zulu nationalist leader, hugged and shook hands.

Departing President F.W. de Klerk, with whom Mandela shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of apartheid, was among those cheering the man who defeated him last month in the country's first multiracial elections. Mandela will assume power today - escorted by his daughters, Zindzi and Zenani - at his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

About 150,000 people are expected at the inauguration in the country's administrative capital. Foreign guests will include Vice President Al Gore, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Britain's Prince Philip, Cuban President Fidel Castro, Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. In addition to all the dignitaries, Mandela also invited James Gregory, his former white jailer in prison.

Monday was a day laced with ironies, from Joe Slovo, the Communist Party leader, raising his pants to display politically symbolic red socks, to the military honors paid to former exiles and guerrillas. …

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