Nelson Mandela - a timeline

Mandela became the first black president of a country dominated by a white minority for 300 years

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 were 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 nearly 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.

18th July, 1988 - Dublin City Council announces that Nelson Mandela is to receive the Freedom of the City. A birthday party is held in his honour at Dublin's Merrion Square. In a communication, purported to be the first to the outside world in 26 years, Mr Mandela  sent a message to the people of Dublin through his solicitor Mr Ismail Ayob in which he noted that he regarded the Irish 'as the original freedom fighters'.

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

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, hands power to Mbeki.

June 1st, 2004 - Announces he will cut back public schedule.

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

November 1st, 2006 - Mandela receives Amnesty International's 2006 "Ambassador of Conscience" award for being a moral guide in a world plagued by human rights abuses.

July 18th, 2007 - Launches an international group of elder statesmen, to tackle world problems including climate change, HIV/Aids and poverty.

August 29th, 2007 - Britain honours Mandela by unveiling a bronze statue alongside Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in London's Parliament Square.

June 25th, 2008 - Mandela uses a speech at a dinner in London to condemn a "tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe.

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.

May 9th, 2009 - Mandela attends Jacob Zuma's presidential inauguration ceremony, in a huge political coup for Zuma.

August 7th, 2009 - US secretary of state Hillary Clinton meets Mandela and gets a private viewing of his archives, saying it was a "treasure trove" of lessons for future generations.

July 11th, 2010 - Appears at closing ceremony of World Cup