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South Africa Table of Contents

South Africa


South Africa had long maintained relatively cordial relations with Kenya, one of Africa's leading pro-Western governments, although until 1990 these ties were mostly unpublicized and centered around trade. The nature of their relations changed in November 1990 when South Africa's minister of foreign affairs, Pik Botha, visited Kenya in the first publicized ministerial-level contact between the two countries since 1960. Relations were further consolidated when President de Klerk visited Kenya in June 1991, and Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi visited Cape Town in June 1992--the first visit to South Africa by an African head of state.

In addition to strong trade ties in the mid-1990s, South Africa and Kenya share the desire to promote cooperation among countries of the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR). In March 1995, delegations from both countries, along with representatives of Australia, India, Oman, and Singapore, met in Mauritius to discuss ways to strengthen trade, investment, and economic cooperation among IOR member states.


Nigeria maintained a hostile attitude toward South Africa for more than thirty years until the early 1990s. Then the new political environment led to President de Klerk's visit to Nigeria in April 1992 to discuss bilateral issues, primarily trade. South Africa and Nigeria established diplomatic relations in mid-1994.

President Mandela was among the small number of world leaders who in late 1995 appealed to Nigeria's military head of state, General Sani Abacha, to spare the lives of the writer and environmental activist Ken Sarowiwa and eight others convicted of inciting violence that resulted in several deaths in Nigeria. After Sarowiwa and the others were executed on November 10, 1995, Mandela called for international sanctions against the Abacha government. South African officials later dropped this demand, deferring to the OAU, which was reluctant to impose sanctions against a member state.

Data as of May 1996