Nelson Mandela Timeline

Brittany Hardison

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo but his family soon moved to the village of Qunu. Qunu is a small village located in a grassy valley.

Nelson Mandela's parents named him Rolihlahla, which means "pulling the branch of the tree" or more commonly known as "troublemaker" but when he attended school a teacher changed his name to Nelson. Nelson completed his Junior Certificate in two years rather than three before going to college in Fort Beaufort.

Nelson Mandela attended Fort Hare University working towards a Bachelor's of Arts degree. While there he met his life long friend and associate Oliver Tambo. In 1940 Nelson and Oliver both got expelled from Fort Hare University for political activism.

In 1941 Nelson was rewarded his Bachelor's degree and in 1942 he was articled to another firm of attorneys and started working on a law degree at the University of Witwatersrand. Here he worked with a study partner, Seretse Khama, who would later become president of the independent Botswana.

In 1944 Nelson married Evelyn Mase, a cousin of Walter Sisulu. He also began his political career in earnest, joining the African National Congress, ANC. Finding the existing leadership of the ANC, Mandela, along with Tambo, Sisulu, and a few others formed the African National Congress Youth League, ANCYL. In 1947 Mandela was elected as secretary of the ANCYL, and became a member of the Transvaal ANC executive. Mandela was made president of the Youth League in 1951.

In 1948 Nelson Mandela failed to pass the exams required to receive the LLB law degree, and he decided to take the qualifying exams that would allow him to practice as and attorney. When DF Malan's Herenidge Nationale Party (HNP, Re-united National Party) won the 1948 election, Mandela, Tambo, and Sisulu acted.

Nelson Mandela opened his first law office in 1952, and a few months later he teamed up the Oliver Tambo to create the first Black legal practice in South Africa. That year Mandela became president of the Transvaal ANC, but was banned under the Suppression of Communism Act – he was prohibited from holding office within the ANC, banned from attending ANY meetings, and restricted to the district around Johannesburg.

On 5 December 1956, in response to the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People, the Apartheid government in South Africa arrested a total 156 people, including Chief Albert Luthuli (president of the ANC) and Nelson Mandela. This was almost the entire executive of the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of Democrats, South African Indian Congress, Colored People's Congress, and the South African Congress of Trade Unions (collectively known as the Congress Alliance).

The 1955 Congress of the People and its moderate stance against the policies of the Apartheid government eventually led to the younger, more radical members of the ANC to break away: the Pan Africanist Congress, PAC, was formed in 1959 under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe.

In 1962 Nelson Mandela was smuggled out of South Africa. He first attended and addressed the conference of African nationalist leaders, the Pan-African Freedom Movement, in Addis Ababa. From there he went to Algeria to undergo guerrilla training, and then flew to London to catch up with Oliver Tambo (and also to meet members of the British parliamentary opposition). On his return to South Africa, Mandela was arrested and sentenced to five years for "incitement and illegally leaving the country".

On 11 July 1963 a raid was undertaken on Lilieslief farm in Rivonia, near Johannesburg, which was being used by the MK as headquarters. The remaining leadership of the MK was arrested. Nelson Mandela was included at trial with those arrested at Lilieslief and charged with over 200 counts of "sabotage, preparing for guerrilla warfare in SA, and for preparing an armed invasion of SA". Mandela was one of five (out of the ten defendants) at the Rivonia Trail to be given life sentences and sent to Robben Island. Two more were released, and the remaining three escaped custody and were smuggled out of the country.

By 1982 international pressure against the South African government to release Nelson Mandela and his compatriots was growing. The then South African president, PW Botha, arranged for Mandela and Sisulu to be transferred back to the mainland to Pollsmoor Prison, near Cape Town. In August 1985, approximately a month after the South African government declares a state of emergency, Mandela was taken to hospital for an enlarged prostate gland. On his return to Pollsmoor he was placed in solitary confinement (having a whole section of the jail to himself).

In May 1988 Mandela was diagnosed with tuberculosis and moved to Tygerberg hospital for treatment. On release from hospital he was moved to 'secure quarters' at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl.

By 1989 things were looking bleak for the Apartheid regime: PW Botha had a stroke, and shortly after 'entertaining' Mandela at the Tuynhuys, the presidential residence in Cape Town, he resigned. FW de Klerk was appointed as his successor. Mandela met with De Klerk in December 1989, and the following year at the opening of parliament (2 February) De Klerk announced the unbanning of all political parties and the release of political prisoners (except those guilty of violent crimes). On 11 February 1990 Nelson Mandela was finally released.

In 1997 Nelson Mandela stepped down as leader of the ANC in favour of Thabo Mbeki, and in 1999 he relinquished the post of president. Despite claims to have retired, Mandela continues to have a busy life.

On December 5, 2013 at the age of 95 Nelson Mandela died of a resperatory infection.

Nelson Mandela was laid to rest on Sunday December 15, 2013. His burial concluded a 10 day period of mourning.

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