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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.


Former President De Klerk, Mrs De Klerk and the staff of the FW de Klerk Foundation would like to extend their warmest birthday wishes to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, on the occasion of his 88th birthday. We join with our fellow South Africans in trusting for continued good health and much happiness for a giant among men, who has done much to contribute towards peace and reconciliation in our beautiful country. Happy Birthday, and may you have a blessed year, Arch!

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation
7 October 2019

foter sa flags celebrate

Today is Heritage Day. This day was placed on the calendar after the 1994 negotiated settlement. The celebrations differ from South African to South African, but on the first commemoration of Heritage Day in 1995, President Nelson Mandela said the day was introduced because the government realised that “our rich and diverse cultural heritage has the power to help us build our new nation”. Heritage is therefore not only intended to celebrate diversity, but also to help build unity.

It is interesting that 24 September was initially not on the list of public holidays when the Public Holidays Bill was presented in Parliament in 1995. The Inkatha Freedom Party insisted that this day, upon which the Zulu nation traditionally celebrated Shaka Day (commemorating the Zulu King’s conciliatory role between the different Zulu tribes), be added to the list of public holidays. The compromise accepted was that the day would be called Heritage Day - and would apply to all South Africans, and not just to the Zulus.

fwdk podium

It is a great pleasure for me to be able to address you today on a topic that is so relevant to so many of the developments that are shaping the world in the 21st century. 

People who imagine that ethnicity and religion are artificial hang-overs from a regrettable and unlamented past are deluding themselves.

They are still central to the lives of billions of people throughout the world.

On the one hand, they provide us with much of our meaning, purpose and identity as human beings. 

We, the Nobel Peace Laureates and Peace Laureate Organisations, gathered at the XVIIth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates from 19 - 22 September 2019, wish to thank the State of Yucatán, the city of Mérida and the nation of Mexico for hosting this World Summit. We are inspired by being able to meet in a city and state with such warmly hospitable people, with such a rich Mexican and Mayan cultural heritage and surrounded by such natural beauty.

We commend the progress that the State of Yucatán has made in implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and encourage the promotion of a just society for all.   

Since the beginning of this century there have hardly been any wars between countries.  Most conflict is now within countries between cultural, religious and language communities.

All three of the world’s major ongoing wars - those in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria - are being exacerbated by divisions between Islamist fundamentalists, and Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. 

The world’s seven minor wars - in Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Southern Sudan, Mali, the Sahel and Libya - likewise have their origins in the clashes between ethnic tribes, Islamist fundamentalists, moderate Muslims and Christians.

nuclear panel

74 years after Hiroshima, the world’s nuclear weapons arsenals continue to pose an existential threat to mankind.

After so many decades of efforts to limit and eliminate nuclear weapons, it should be clear by now that none of the nuclear weapons states have the slightest intention of dispensing with their own nuclear weapons capability.  

There is, indeed, general agreement about the need to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons - and nuclear weapons states may from time to time be willing to enter into agreements regarding the rationalisation of their nuclear weapons arsenals - but there is no indication that they are prepared to do much more than give lip service to the elimination of this fundamental threat to human existence.

It is a great pleasure for me to address the youth delegates at this Nobel Peace Laureate Summit in Mérida.

I have no doubt that one of the central challenges that your generation will confront will be the management of the enormous changes that you will experience during your lifetimes.   

You will need very special leadership skills to deal with change - because:

  • It is accelerating;
  • It is unpredictable; and
  • It is fundamental.


It is a pleasure to talk about South African history in a country with such a long and distinguished history - and at a school whose alumni have contributed so greatly to Britain and to the world.

It is, of course, impossible to understand the past 40 years in South Africa without   understanding the preceding 400 years.  Britain played a major role in the evolution of that history - as it did in the histories of so many countries throughout the world.

The British first occupied the Cape in 1795 and then annexed it in 1806.

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