6 July 1987
On 6 July 1987, Dr. Federik van Zyl Slabbert led a group of fifty-two mainly Afrikaans-speaking intellectuals, to meet with the then-banned African National Congress (ANC) in Dakar, Senegal. Delegates were drawn from academic, professional, cultural, religious and business fields. Amongst the delegates from South Africa were Tony Bloom, Dr F. van Zyl Slabbert, Willie Esterhuyse, Dr. Theuns Eloff, Bretyen Breytenbach, Andre Brink, Ampie Coetsee, Andre du Toit, Jannie Gagiano, Herman Gilliomee, Max du Preez, Rashid Lombard, Jimmy Matthews, Hennie Serfontein, Alistair Sparks, Alex Boraine and Gretha Fox. Notable about these delegates is that the majority were Afrikaans-speaking, and this ground-breaking meeting is regarded as a milestone in South African political history. It received positive attention internationally. The South African government however saw it as a betrayal not only of the apartheid state, but also of Afrikanerdom. The ANC delegation was headed by Thabo Mbeki. The meeting was organised by the Institute for a Democratic Alternative in South Africa (IDASA) and the ANC. In an effort to reduce potential state interference, the non-ANC participants stated that they were attending in their individual capacities. The purpose of the meeting, while exploratory, was to confer on mutual strategies for fundamental political, social and economic changes in South Africa. Participants agreed to campaign for a negotiated resolution of the liberation struggle. It was further agreed that, given the increasing and endemic politically-motivated violence in the country, this process needed to happen swiftly. Van Zyl Slabbert later expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the discussions.

Highlights in history on this date: 6 July 1987 [Online]. Available at: www.news24.com (Accessed: 02 July 2013)|South African History Online, ‘Frederik van Zyl Slabbert’, [online], available at www.sahistory.org.za (Accessed: 05 July 2013)|South African History Online, ‘Van Zyl Slabbert concludes meeting with ANC’, [online], available at www.sahistory.org.za (Accessed: 05 July 2013)