25 years later: Nelson Mandela's inauguration still resonates

Mandela's inauguration had roughly 1 billion viewers worldwide

By Keith Dunlap - Graham Media Group
Getty Images

An election campaign poster reading "Mandela for President" is seen among exhibits at a press preview in London (Leon Neal/Getty Images).

Consider the attention and viewership involved in the inauguration of a U.S. president. It's a big deal, and it happens, at most, just every four years.

But nothing in the United States can hold a candle to a presidential inauguration that took place 25 years ago Friday. 

May 10 will mark the 25th anniversary of a historic civil rights moment in world history, the day Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first black president of South Africa. 

His inauguration in Pretoria had roughly 1 billion viewers worldwide and was attended by an estimated 4,000 people, some of whom were prominent world leaders.

Here is a video of his inauguration speech, and you can read a copy by clicking or tapping here.

Mandela became an icon when he fought a South African government that established racial segregation that privileged whites, otherwise known as apartheid. 

Following years of his involvement with protests and other anti-apartheid efforts, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1962.

After 27 years in prison and a worldwide movement to free him, Mandela was released from prison in 1990 by South African President F.W. de Klerk.

In addition to freeing Mandela, de Klerk lifted the ban on the African National Congress, a political party formed in 1912 that Mandela joined in 1944. 

In 1992, a referendum banning apartheid was passed -- and after a multiracial election was established in 1994, Mandela was easily elected president at age 75 after the African National Congress captured 63 percent of the vote.

Mandela served as president until 1999.

He died in 2013 at the age of 95, but not before he was given more than 250 awards and accolades around the world, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize and the Libyan Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. 

Graham Media Group 2019