This is a brief timeline of Nelson Mandela giving some of the basic dates of important events. This Nelson Mandela timeline gives a relatively quick biography and helps to keep events in order.
July 18 Rolihlahla Mandela is born in the small village of Mveso on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. His father was Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa and his mother Nosekeni Fanny. Rolihlahla was given the name Nelson when he started school.
Nelson Rolihlahla’s father dies. He is placed under the guardianship of Jongintaba Dalindyebo acting chief of the Thembu tribe.
Attends Wesleyan College in Fort Beaufort then studies for BA at Fort Hare University. It was here that Mandela met his life-long friend Oliver Tambo.
Nelson becomes involved in a boycott against the Universities policies and has to leave.
He escapes an arranged marriage and runs to Johannesburg.
While there he completes his BA through correspondence and studies Law at the University of Witwatersrand
Nelson Mandela becomes a member of the African National Congress (ANC).
Along with Oliver Tambo, forms the Youth League of the ANC
Nelson Mandela marries Evelyn Mase. They go on to have 4 children – one of whom dies as an infant.
The apartheid policy of segregation is implemented across South Africa
Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo open the first black legal firm in South Africa.
While providing free or cheap legal aid to blacks, Mandela is actively involved in the ANC’s defiance campaign.
Freedom Charter calling for equal rights is adopted at the Congress of the people.
On Dec 5 Mandela and 155 other political activists are charged with treason. The Riviona Trial followed until 1956 when all were acquitted.
Mandela’s first marriage ends
Nelson Mandela marries ‘Winnie’. They go on to have 2 children
New laws passed separating homelands for black groups and increasing racial segregation.
Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) is formed and the ANC loses many members and financial support to the group.
At the Sharpeville Massacre 69 black South Africans are shot by police at a peaceful protest and over 150 are wounded.
The ANC is banned and Mandela goes underground forming ‘The Spear of the Nation’ (MK) military group with arms.
Mandela issues a call to arms and becomes leader of the Umkhontoat ANC guerilla movement.
Aug 5, Mandela is arrested and imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort.
Oct 25 – sentenced to 5 years in prison but goes on the run
Nelson is recaptured, tried for treason and sabotage and is sentenced to life imprisonment. He is 46 years old and goes to Robben Island prison where he spends the next 18 years of his imprisonment, before being moved before his eventual release in 1990.
Rhodesian independence, with only white representation in government.
Mandela loses his eldest son in a car crash and his mother also dies. He is not permitted to attend their funerals.
The United Nations expels Rhodesia because of its apartheid policies
Protests in Soweto and Sharpeville (lead by Steve Biko), result in the death of over 600.
Biko is killed while in police custody.
Oliver Tambo (who has been exiled) launches an international campaign to have Mandela released.
Zimbabwe gains independence.
Farmers are allowed to arm themselves and by 1983 Government making claims of multiple murders, rapes and robberies by black dissidents
Sanctions increase against South Africa costing millions.
Amnesty for dissidents announced. 122 surrender
Feb 11 – Nelson Mandela is freed from prison after 27 years.
The ban on the ANC is lifted by President de Klerk, and talks on forming a multi-racial democracy begin.
Nelson Mandela becomes president of the ANC. Olympic Games ban lifted.
Winnie Mandela is convicted of kidnapping and as an accessory to assault. She and Nelson separate.
Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nelson and Winnie divorce
April 26 – first elections where blacks can vote. The ANC wins the election with 252 seats out of 400.
Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as the first black President of South Africa in May. De Klerk is appointed as Deputy President and the racially mixed Government of National Unity is formed.
Mandela wears a Springbok shirt at the South African hosted Rugby World Cup. This is seen as a gesture of healing and trust between black and white.
July 18 Nelson Mandela marries Graca Machel (widow of former Mozambique President) on his 80th birthday.
Mandela relinquishes the Presidency of South Africa to Thabo Mbeki.
Mandela is appointed mediator civil war in Burundi.
Nelson Mandela is treated for prostate cancer.
Supports 46664 AIDS fund raising campaign. (named after his prison number)
At 85 Mandela announces retirement from official life. Granted the honor of the freedom of the city of Johannesburg.
Jan 6 Mandela’s son Makgatho dies of AIDS.
The United Nations General Assembly declares July 18 ‘Mandela Day’ as a tribute to his contribution to world freedom.
- Dec. 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 in Johannesburg.