South Africa's Presidents since 1994

Nelson Rohlihlahla (roughly means trouble maker) Mandela b. July 18, 1918-


  1. Mandela as a young attorney before he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1962 for his anti-apartheid activities. He became South Africa's first democratically-elected president in 1994 and served until 1999. 
  2. Mandela as he looks today; he is affectionately referred to as "Madiba" (Ma-Di-Ba).  Don't ask me what Madiba means because I don't know. It's a Xhosa word so you look it up in a Xhosa dictionary! 
    The continuing popularity of the ruling African National Congress is attributed not only to the ANC's leadership in the fight to overthrew apartheid but because of Mandela.  

  3. Thabo Mbeki (Taa-bo M-beki)

    b. June 18, 1942-
  4. Mbeki was deputy president under Mandela and succeeded him as president in 1999. Like Mandela, he is Xhosa and hails from the Eastern Cape province. 
    Mbeki was ousted (  2008) by factions working on behalf of the current president, Jacob Zuma, who was once a close political ally. Mbeki is probably best known internationally for his controversial views on AIDS, claiming at one point that there was no conclusive evidence linking HIV to AIDS. But he is probably best known across the continent of Africa for his speech,  "I am an African."  Please see a video of the speech below. 
  5. "I Am An African" by Thabo Mbeki. 
    Mbeki's key role in the struggle and the secret talks to end apartheid is portrayed in the PBS Masterpiece production, "Endgame,"  ( ), which is available on Netflix. 
  6. I am African speech by Thabo Mbeki
  7. Kgalema Motlanthe was appointed "interim" president following Mbeki's ouster in 2008. He served until President Jacob Zuma was elected in 2009. He is now deputy president of the country.
  8. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma 

    b. April 12, 1942-
  9. Zuma is such a controversial and larger-than-life figure in pre- and post-apartheid South Africa and has been involved in so many complicated court cases that it's difficult to briefly summarize his life. So instead of trying, I direct to's Fast Facts on Zuma. ( 

  10. Umshini wami (roughly translates into "bring me my machine gun") is a Zulu song sung during the struggle to overthrow apartheid. Zuma used the tune as his campaign song and continues to sing and dance to the song in public from time to time.  Needless to say, the song does not go down well with all South Africans.
  11. Jacob Zuma sings Umshini Wam