Mandela’s legendary inauguration came two weeks after more than 22 million South Africans voted in the first all-race parliamentary elections. Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC) party won by a landslide, yet still opted to form a national unity coalition with the opposing National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.
Dignitaries and politicians from more than 140 countries attended the televised event as a billion viewers looked on from around the world.
"We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness,” Mandela said in his inauguration speech.
"Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! God bless Africa!"
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(Photo: WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images)