The Day Apartheid Died: Photos of South Africa’s First Free Vote

Recent elections in South Africa marked 25 years since the fall of apartheid, and this photo essay commemmorates the country’s first free election. It was the first in which citizens of all races were able to vote — horrific acts of violence threatened to undermine the hopes for a South Africa freed from white minority rule. White supremacists assassinated a young black leader in his driveway. A mob stoned and stabbed an American volunteer to death, shouting “one settler, one bullet.” And in the black townships, political rivalries set off deadly attacks in which people were burned alive. Yet, the final transfer of power was a remarkably peaceful, joyful four days. Millions of black South Africans, finally full citizens in the land of their ancestors, stood in line for hours, patiently waiting for the chance to vote for new leaders and end the brutal subjugation of the apartheid system. 


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