Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela (18th July 1918 – 5th December 2013) – A Timeline of Events


Following the news that Nelson Mandela died last night, I wanted to make a factfile of his life. He was a true inspiration to us all, he fought for the human rights, equality and love. He was a lawyer, an activist and also a prisoner, which in effect made him become the first black president of South Africa, and was an inspiration to all of us, and to a wide array of generations around the world.

Source of photos: BBC News, Africa

The Early Years of Nelson Mandela (1918-1944)

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who is the son of a Thembu tribal chief was born in Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa on the 18th July 1918. He was the first member of his family to attend school. It was there that he received the name ‘Nelson’ – it was a customary for school children to be given an English name. In 1941, Nelson Mandela fled to Johannesburg to avoid an arranged marriage. There, he met Walter Sisulu who would help him get to work at the law firm, Witkin Sidelsky.

Early years

Nelson Mandela later went on to join the AFC (African National Congress) in 1944.

Nelson’s Trial of Treason (1952-1958)

In 1952, Nelson Mandela qualified as a lawyer and also set up the country’s first black law firm with Oliver Tambo. With fears looming with a ban from the apartheid government, the African National Congress asked Nelson to make plans to ensure the party would be able to work underground.

Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1956, and was also charged with treason along with 155 others. This would go on to make the trial last 4-and-a-half-years, ending with Mandela being acquitted.

In 1958, Nelson Mandela married his second wife, Winnie Madikizela.

Hope for Africa

The Life Sentence (1960-1964)

After 69 protesters in Sharpeville were killed by police in March 1960, the government were hanging in the balance, so they took the decision to declare a state of emergency, and eventually banned the ANC. The organisation would go on to form a military wing, which was led by Nelson Mandela.

In 1962, Mr Mandela was arrested and also tried for attempting to leave the country illegally. In 1963, whilst Nelson Mandela was in prison was charged with sabotage. This would mean he and 7 others were sentenced to life in 1964, and they were also jailed on Robben Island.

Arrest and trial

Nelson Mandela | Free at Last (1967-1990)

The international community begun to tighten sanctions which were first imposed upon the apartheid regime in 1967. By 1990, the increasing pressure led to President FW de Klerk lifting the ban on the African National Congress. After 27 years of prison time, on the 11th February 1990, Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison.

Many crowds cheered as Nelson and his wife, Winnie Madikizela were released from the prison grounds. The next year, Nelson Mandela was elected as the African National Congress’ president at the party’s first national conference. This meant talks would begin on forming a new, multi-racial democracy.

Free at last

The accepting of the Nobel Peace Prize – 1993

In 1993, Nelson Mandela and the South African president President FW de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to bring stability to South Africa. The Nobel Committee said that both men made “a brilliant contribution to peace”.

After accepting the award, Nelson Mandela said: “We will do what we can to contribute to the renewal of our world.”

Nobel Prize

The New President – 1994

In 1994, for the first time in South Africa’s history, people from all races were able to vote in the democratic electrons. The African National Congress won the vote and Nelson Mandela became the president. He told the crowds at his inauguration on the 10th May 1994: “Let freedom reign, God bless Africa!”

His deputy, Thabo Mbeki, took over the day-to-day running of the government, which left Nelson Mandela free and to also have the chance and opportunity to promote the country abroad.

New president

The Return to Robben Prison – February 1995

Nelson wanted to mark the 5th anniversary of his release, and decided to visit the prison he was in on Robben Island, where he spent 18 years in captivity. He made the visit in 1995 with other former prisoners who also served time on the island, where many were also forced to perform hard labour.

Robben return

“Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” (1997-2010)

Nelson Mandela stepped down as the African National Congress president in 1997, and his successor, Thabo Mbeki, led the party to victory at the polls in 1999. On his 80th birthday, Nelson married his third wife, Graca Machel. This made him South Africa’s highest-profile ambassador, which meant he would campaign against HIV/AIDS, and also helped to secure the 2010 football World Cup.

In 2004, Nelson announced his retirement from public life. Joking with the reporters, Mr Mandela said: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

Quiet life

Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Party (2008)

A lot of musicians, film stars and politicians joined Nelson Mandela at a concert in London’s Hyde Park in 2008 to celebrate his 90th birthday. When speaking to the crowd, he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens, it is in your hands now.”

Birthday party

The Battle of Nelson’s Illness (2013)

Nelson Mandela made few public appearances after celebrating his 90th birthday, despite appearing at the closing ceremony of the 2010 football World Cup, which was hosted by South Africa. At the beginning of January 2011, Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital after suffering from a respiratory infection, and suffered repeated infections over the course of the next 2 years. His lungs were said to have been damaged where he worked in a prison quarry.

Nelson Mandela died at home peacefully last night at the age of 95.


We will all miss you Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela, you are a true icon, and you will never be forgotten.

Thank you for taking the time to read the post as the timeline of events unfolded, it was really appreciated.

– Alex Smithson


    1. You’re welcome Sally, and thank you for the comment, it really moved me a lot 😊.

      -Photography | Nature

      On New Year’s Day 2014 (1/1/2014 to prevent confusion) I will be changing the theme of this blog to the new Twenty Fourteen theme, where the layout will be more responsive for tablets and also for the mobile platforms. Another change is coming on January 1st 2014, where I’ll be changing the name of this blog to “Mother Nature | Life at the touch of a button”, so stay tuned!!

      …again, thank you for your comment, I really appreciated it 😊


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