While the world waits to see whether South Africa can bring itself to bury apartheid and free its oppressed black majority, one Washington-based organization [Africare] is betting that it will — and helping to prepare for the day. -William Raspberry
With Nelson Mandela’s 1990 release from prison, the repeal of the last apartheid laws, the unbanning of political parties in South Africa and, finally, the country’s first free elections in April 1994, “South Africa,” Mandela told supporters at an Africare gathering, “stands at the dawn of a new era.”
In 1989, Africare began assisting black South Africans in the United States with its South Africa Career Development Internship (CDI) Program. Launched in 1989 with cornerstone support from IBM Corp., CDI provided professional immersion internships in the U.S. to black South African (and later, Namibian) pre-professionals graduating from American universities. Ultimately, the 400-plus CDI alums got good jobs back home and became mentors to other young, black Southern Africans. “While the world waits to see whether South Africa can bring itself to bury apartheid and free its oppressed black majority,” wrote columnist William Raspberry in 1990, “one Washington-based organization [Africare] is betting that it will — and helping to prepare for the day.”
In 1992, Africare became one of the first U.S.-based assistance organizations on the ground in South Africa.
Training for Governance in the New South Africa, an innovative Africare-supported program, began in January 1994 to help prepare for the country’s first free elections the following April. Post-election, the program went on to provide the new leaders with practical training and technical assistance in democratic governance: by means, for example, of observation tours in the United States and follow-up workshops at home in South Africa. More than 200 candidates, elected officials and other policymakers ― from diverse political parties ― participated in this historic program.