April 27, 1994. Voting begins in South Africa’s first post-apartheid election, with non-whites allowed to take part freely for the first time. Almost 20 million people queue to cast their ballots over three days. At the previous election in 1989, only around two million people voted.
Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress finished first with 62 percent of the vote. Having fallen just short of the two thirds majority, the ANC decided to form a government of national unity with F.W. de Klerk’s National Party (which introduced apartheid) and the mainly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party.
South Africa marks April 27, Freedom Day, with a public holiday.
Also on April 27: John Milton sells the rights to Paradise Lost to a publisher for £10 (1667); Beethoven composes Für Elise (1810); France abolishes slavery (1848); Italian partisans arrest Benito Mussolini (1945)
Born on April 27: Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Sergei Prokofiev (1891), Ari Vatanen (1952), Dinara Safina (1986)
Back in the Day: South Africa's Freedom Day