Frederik Willem De Klerk Speaker

Frederik Willem De Klerk

President of South Africa, joint winner of the nobel peace prize with Nelson Mandela

Frederik Willem De Klerk: Biography highlights

Joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela, Frederik Willem De Klerk was one of the most influential South African politicians of the twentieth century.

Known for:

Nobel Prize Winners

Full biography of Frederik Willem De Klerk

Frederik Willem De Klerk’s Background

  • Former State President of South Africa
  • Worked to end apartheid
  • 1993 winner of The Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Nelson Mandela
  • Awarded a Gold Medal (Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse) from the College Historical Society
  • Founder of the FW de Klerk Foundation

Speaking style

  • Academic, formal and story-telling

Having led South Africa through challenging times, facilitated a democracy and enabled the ending of apartheid, Frederik Willem De Klerk is unafraid to speak his mind and to share his knowledge. His desire to enable current and future leaders to achieve their potential for the good of humanity is evident.

Frederik Willem De Klerk is known for his work in transforming South African politics. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Nelson Mandela, in recognition of his work to end apartheid and to enable democracy.

Early Potential

Frederik Willem de Klerk was born in Johannesburg on the 18th of March 1936 to a family known for their involvement in and conservative view of South African politics. de Klerk attended Monument High School in Krugersdorp before studying law at Potchefstroom University. After his graduation, he moved to Vereeniging, where he practised law.

Political Career

In 1969, de Klerk became Vereenigings member of the House of Assembly, becoming Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and Social Welfare and Pensions in 1978. Following this, he went on to occupy numerous crucial roles:

  • 1979-1980 – Minister for Mines, Energy and Environmental Planning
  • 1980-1982 – Minister for Mineral and Energy Affairs
  • 1982-1985 – Minister for Internal Affairs
  • 1984-1989 – Minister for National Education and Planning
  • In 1982, de Klerk became the Transvaal province leader of the National Party, becoming chairman of the Minister’s Council in the House of Assembly three years later.

Despite the fact that he had always been associated with conservative views regarding segregation in society and in education, after many years in politics he became a leading member of a growing group of people within the governing party who were in favour of more liberal policies. By February 1989 de Klerk was the head of the National Party. By the 20th of September in the same year, he became State President.

After taking leadership, de Klerk began to disassemble the segregated society in South Africa. He freed Nelson Mandela, facilitated the ending of apartheid and lifted the ban on the African National Congress (the ANC). Negotiations between the National Party and the African National Congress enabled South Africa to become a democracy. It was due to their contribution to ending apartheid that de Klerk and Nelson Mandela were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Whilst in government, de Klerk was also responsible for the nuclear disarmament of South Africa in the early nineties. de Klerk was deputy president for two years (under Nelson Mandela) after the 1994 election. He retired from politics in 1997.

Post Political Career

The FW de Klerk Foundation was founded by de Klerk in 2000. The organisation promotes peace in multicultural areas and helps to ensure that South Africa is continuing to uphold democracy and support its people, regardless of colour or race. He is currently Chairman of the FW de Klerk Foundation and of the Global Leadership Foundation (GLF), an organisation in which former leaders share their knowledge and wisdom with todays governments. As well as playing an active role in his foundations, de Klerk is currently a speaker and a lecturer. He is an Honorary Chairman of the Prague Society for International Cooperation, and an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society.

Personal Life

de Klerk first married in 1959. He and his wife Marike (ne Willemse) had three children Jan, Willem and Susan de Klerk. The marriage ended with divorce in 1998 after it was revealed that de Klerk had been having an affair with Elita Georgiades. Following their divorces, de Klerk and Georgiades were married.

In 2001, Marike de Klerk was murdered whilst her ex-husband was away in Sweden. de Klerk returned to South Africa immediately on hearing the news.

During a medical examination in 2006, it was discovered that de Klerk had a malignant colon tumour. Despite complications during the operation to remove the tumour, he went on to make a full recovery, also recovering from a triple bypass operation the same year.


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Available for:

After Dinner Engagement

Watch Frederik in action

1/4 videos
Former President FW de Klerk addresses CT Press Club
Former President FW de Klerk addresses CT Press Club
F.W. De Klerk | Full Speech | Oxford Union
F.W. De Klerk | Full Speech | Oxford Union
F.W. De Klerk | Apartheid Indefensible | Oxford Union
F.W. De Klerk | Apartheid Indefensible | Oxford Union
FW de Klerk says Thatcher played role in promoting change in South Africa
FW de Klerk says Thatcher played role in promoting change in South Africa

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