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Key dates in the life of Nelson Mandela

Published on February 11, 2020

On the 30th anniversary of his release from prison, where he spent more than 27 years, here are key dates in the life of the late anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president.

– July 18, 1918: Born into the Thembu royal family in the rural Transkei.

– 1943: Joins the African National Congress (ANC), co-founding its Youth League the following year.

– 1952: Leads a campaign of defiance against the apartheid system, installed four years earlier. He and Oliver Tambo open the first black law firm in Johannesburg.

– 1958: Marries his second wife, anti-apartheid figure Winnie Madikizela, whom he divorces in 1996.

– 1961: Mandela and other activists are acquitted on treason charges laid five years earlier. The ANC launches its armed wing with Mandela as commander in chief.

– 1962: Captured and sentenced to prison for incitement and leaving the country illegally.

– 1964: Mandela and other senior anti-apartheid leaders are tried and sentenced to life for sabotage. He is sent to Robben Island prison off Cape Town.

– 1985: Refuses pardon offered by president P. W. Botha on condition that he renounces violence.

– 1990: After 27 years in jail, Mandela is released.

– 1991: Elected ANC president.

– 1993: Mandela and the last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk, are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

– 1994: The ANC wins the first all-race elections and Mandela is inaugurated as president.

– 1998: Marries Graca Machel, widow of former Mozambican president Samora Machel.

– 1999: Steps down after one term.

– December 5, 2013: After months of intensive medical care, Mandela dies aged 95.