Nelson Mandela Timeline

Timeline, Mrs. Bailey and December 11, 2013

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who was imprisoned as well as a politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office. He served as the President of the African National Congress from 1991 to 1997.

For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, non-violent defiance against the South African Government and its racist policies. Nelson and South African President F.W. de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their efforts to end the apartheid system.

In 2009, Nelson’s birthday was declared Mandela Day, which was used to promote global peace and celebrate his legacy. Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013, at age 95.

Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, in a tiny village on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa. He was the first in his family to attend school. Mandela's teacher told him that his new first name would be Nelson. When Mandela was 9 years old, his father died of lung disease, which changed his life dramatically. Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo adopted Nelson.

Nelson Mandela in his first suit.

When Mandela was 16, it was time for him to partake in the traditional African circumcision ritual to mark his entrance into manhood. In African tradition, an uncircumcised man cannot inherit his father's wealth, marry or officiate at tribal rituals.

Nelson Mandela enjoyed boxing and long-distance running.

As Thembu royalty, Mandela attended a Wesleyan mission school, the Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Wesleyan College. In 1939, Mandela enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare. Later on in life, he founded the law firm Mandela and Tambo, partnering with Oliver Tambo, a brilliant student he'd met while attending Fort Hare. The law firm provided free and low-cost legal counsel to unrepresented blacks.

In 1956, Mandela and 150 others were arrested and accused of treason for their political activism. In 1961, Mandela orchestrated a three-day national workers' strike. He was arrested for leading the strike the following year, and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 1963, Mandela was brought to trial again. This time, he and 10 other ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment for political offenses, including sabotage. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years in prison.

Nelson Mandela after being released from Robben Island.

In 1991, Mandela was elected president of the African National Congress. Nelson Mandela was initiated as the country's first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy. Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2001. After many years of health problems, Mandela passed away of old age on December 5, 2013.

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