- 25 years ago, Professor Washington J. Okumu helped bring about a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa
- This came as he helped end deadlocked negotiations between Mangosuthu Buthelezi, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela
- Okumu convinced Buthelezi to take part in the country's first democratic elections
25 years ago today, on 19 April 1994, Kenyan Professor Washington J. Okumu helped put an end to South Africa's election deadlock by urging Chief Buthelezi to take part in the country's first democratic elections.
The IFP finally agreed to join the ballot after negotiations between F.W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
King Goodwill Zwelethini also urged his supporters to recognize the election as legitimate.
Up until the last minute, it seemed that the IFP would abstain from the 1994 elections, as Buthelezi and the other major party leaders could not come to an agreement that was satisfactory to all parties.
Washington J. Okumu, however, intervened and was able to break through the deadlock. Initially, the specifics regarding Okumu's meeting with Buthelezi were kept from the public.
Okumu says he told Buthelezi to think of the "bigger picture" and to imagine how harshly history would judge him if major violence broke out in South Africa because of his reluctance to take part in the election.
Finally, Buthelezi changed his mind and decided to participate.
He and the other major political leaders agreed to the Agreement for Reconciliation and Peace, which declared that the IFP would take part in the election and that all parties would recognise the institution of the Zulu monarchy.
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