Mandela: a life in timeline

Wed, Jul 18, 2012, 01:00

Former South African president Nelson Mandela turns 94 today. Here are key dates in his life.

July 18th, 1918 - Born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela near Qunu, in Transkei (now Eastern Cape), the youngest son of a counsellor to the chief of his Thembu clan.

1944 - Founds African National Congress (ANC) Youth League with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu.

- Marries his first wife Evelyn, with whom he had a daughter and two sons. They divorced in 1957.

1952 - Mandela and others arrested and charged under Suppression of Communism Act; given suspended prison sentence.

- Elected deputy national president of ANC

1958 - Marries Winnie Madikizela. They separated in April 1992 and were divorced about four years later.

1962 - Leaves country secretly. Goes for military training in Morocco and Ethiopia. Returning to South Africa, the "Black Pimpernel" is captured and sentenced to five years for incitement and illegally leaving the country.

1963 - While serving five-year sentence, Mandela is charged with conspiracy and sabotage.

June 12th, 1964 - Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island, off Cape Town.

February 2nd, 1990 - FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president, lifts ban on ANC and other liberation movements. Mandela is freed on February 11th.

1991 - Elected president of the ANC.

October 1993 - Wins Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk.

May 10th, 1994 - Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa's first black president.

December 1997 - Hands leadership of ANC to Deputy President Thabo Mbeki in first stage of phased transfer of power.

July 18th, 1998 - Marks 80th birthday with marriage to Graca Machel, widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel.

June 16th, 1999 - Retires and hands power to Mbeki.

January 6th, 2005 - Announces that only surviving son, Makgatho Mandela, has died from Aids at the age of 54.

June 26th, 2008 - US lawmakers erase references to Mandela as a "terrorist" from national databases.

June 27th, 2008 - Stars pay tribute to Mandela, celebrating his 90th birthday, in London's Hyde Park.

June 11th, 2010 - Mandela's 13-year-old great-granddaughter is killed in a car crash after leaving a concert on the eve of the World Cup. Mandela cancels his attendance at the opening game.

January 28th, 2011 - Mandela leaves hospital after two days of treatment for an acute respiratory infection.

February 25th, 2012 - Mandela is admitted to hospital with a "long-standing abdominal complaint". He is released two days later.

May 30th, 2012 - Mandela appears on television for first time since his February hospital stay