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Timeline: Key moments in Nelson Mandela's life


July 18, 1918: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is born to a Tembu tribal leader in the southeastern Xhosa-speaking region of Transkei.

1938: Mandela enters the University of Fort Hare. Two years later, he is expelled for participating in a student strike and moves to Johannesburg to avoid an arranged marriage.

1941: Mandela completes work for his bachelors' degree by correspondence and studies law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

1944: Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu help form the Youth League of the African National Congress.

1948: Mandela becomes national secretary of the ANC Youth League. In 1950, he becomes its president.

June 26, 1952: ANC's Defiance Campaign opens. Mandela and 51 others break curfew regulations as their first act of defiance against apartheid.

December 1952: Mandela and Tambo open a law practice in Johannesburg, the first black law partnership in the country.

September 1953: Mandela is required to resign officially from the ANC. Thereafter, his leadership role is exercised secretly.

Dec. 6, 1956: He is among 156 political leaders arrested and charged with high treason.

June 1958: Mandela marries Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela, a social worker, after divorcing his first wife, Evelyn.

March 21, 1960: Sixty-nine black protesters are killed by police in Sharpeville. A state of emergency is declared and the ANC is outlawed.

March 29, 1961: Mandela and his co-defendants in the treason case are acquitted after a four-year trial. For the next 17 months, he lives as a fugitive and becomes commander of the ANC's newly formed military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation).

Jan. 11, 1962: After being smuggled across the border, Mandela makes a surprise appearance at the Pan-African Freedom Movement Conference in Ethiopia. He then travels to Algeria for guerrilla training and to London to meet leftist politicians.

Aug. 5, 1962: A few weeks after returning to South Africa, he is captured and charged with incitement and leaving the country illegally.

November 1962: He is convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

July 11, 1963: While Mandela is in prison, police raid the ANC's underground headquarters at a farmhouse in Rivonia, outside Johannesburg, and seize documents outlining a planned guerrilla campaign.

Oct. 20, 1963: The so-called Rivonia Trial begins, with Mandela and eight co-defendants accused of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

June 12, 1964: Eight of the nine accused, including Mandela, are sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela is taken to Robben Island Prison, where he will spend the next 18 years.

May 16, 1977: As part of a crackdown after the June 1976 Soweto uprising, Winnie Mandela is banished to remote Brandfort, where she remains for seven years.

June 13, 1980: An international "Free Mandela'' campaign culminates with a call for his release by the U.N. Security Council.

April 1982: Mandela and Sisulu are transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town.

May 12, 1984: Mandela and his wife are allowed their first contact visit and embrace for the first time in 22 years.

Jan. 31, 1985: President P.W. Botha offers to free Mandela if he renounces violence. Mandela says he will not do so until the government takes the initiative in dismantling apartheid and granting full political rights to blacks.

July 18, 1988: Mandela's 70th birthday is observed by anti-apartheid activists worldwide. Most public commemorations in South Africa are banned.

Aug. 12, 1988: Mandela is hospitalized for tuberculosis.

Dec. 6, 1988: After recovery he is transferred to Victor Verster prison farm north of Cape Town, where he lives in a house and is allowed unrestricted family visits. Four of his imprisoned co-defendants visit him before Christmas.

Feb. 16, 1989: Leading anti-apartheid groups repudiate Winnie Mandela, accusing her of complicity in the abduction and assault of a 14-year-old black activist and of allowing her bodyguards to wage a "reign of terror" in Soweto. Some of the bodyguards are charged with the boy's murder.

May 17, 1989: Mandela receives his bachelor of laws degree, which he earned through correspondence study with the University of South Africa.

July 5, 1989: President Botha invites Mandela to his official Cape Town residence for a 45-minute talk.

July 12, 1989: Mandela's comments on his conversation with Botha are broadcast on government-run radio and television.

Oct. 15, 1989: Sisulu and four other co-defendants of Mandela are freed unconditionally by F.W. de Klerk, who replaced Botha as president in August.

Dec. 13, 1989: Mandela confers with de Klerk at the presidential office.

Feb. 2, 1990: De Klerk legalizes the ANC and 60 other organizations, vows to free all political prisoners, ends restrictions on 374 individuals and places a moratorium on hangings.

Feb. 11, 1990: Mandela leaves Victor Verster Prison.

March 2, 1990: He is named deputy president of the ANC.

May 2, 1990: He leads the ANC delegation in first meeting with the government.

Oct. 15, 1993: Mandela and de Klerk share the Nobel Peace Prize for working "to peacefully end apartheid" and push South Africa toward democracy.

April 27, 1994: South African apartheid formally ends when Mandela, 75, casts the first legal vote of his life in an all-race election.

May 10, 1994: He is inaugurated as president of a democratic South Africa.

March 19, 1996: He divorces Winnie Mandela.

July 18, 1998: He marries Graça Machel on his 80th birthday.

May 1999: Mandela steps down after choosing not to run for re-election.

June 2, 2004: He announces that he will be stepping down from public life.

July 11, 2010: Mandela makes a surprise appearance at the final match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

June 8, 2013: Mandela is hospitalized with a lung infection and stays there three months.

Dec. 5, 2013: Mandela, 95, dies "peacefully" while with his family about 8:50 p.m.

Compiled by Times researcher Caryn Baird with information from the Associated Press, Times wires and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Timeline: Key moments in Nelson Mandela's life 12/05/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:37pm]
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