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Nelson Mandela was born into the Thembu tribe in Mvezo, South Africa and given the name Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela. He has been heavily involved with the African National Congress (ANC) since 1944 and organized their armed wing, the Spear of the Nation. He was sentenced to life in prison for treason in 1964 and remained there for the following 26 years. While in prison he continued to have a strong influence in the ANC. He also wrote his autobiography, LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, in prison. He became a symbol of the struggle against apartheid, and four years after his release he was elected president of South Africa in the nation's first open elections. Together with former South African president, F. W. de Klerk, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1995 he formed the Truth and Reconciliation Committee to investigate the wrongs committed during Apartheid.


1918 He was born in Mvezo, South Africa. (July 18)

1939 He entered the University College of Fort Hare in Alice.

1940 He was expelled from the University College of Fort Hare after participating in a student demonstration.

1941 He went to Johannesburg, fleeing an arranged marriage.

1942 He received his B.A. From the University of South Africa.

1943 He entered the University of the Witwatersrand.

1944 He joined the African National Congress (ANC).

1948 The system of racial segregation known as apartheid was established.

1952 He and Oliver Tambo opened a law practice in South Africa. He helped organize the Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws.

1956 He was arrested and charged with high treason.

1957 He divorced his first wife, Evelyn Mase.

1958 He married Nkosikazi Madikizela who became known as Winnie Mandela.

1961 He was acquitted.; He organized Spear of the Nation (Umkhonto we Sizwe). (December)

1962 He was sentenced to 5 years in prison for inciting a labor strike. (August)

1964 He was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison. (June)

1990 He was released from prison. (February 2)

1993 He convinced then president, F. W. de Klerk to hold open elections.; He and de Klerk together won the Nobel Peace Prize.

1994 LONG WALK TO FREEDOM was published. He was elected president of South Africa. (April 27)

1995 He formed the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

1996 He and Winnie Mandela divorced.; He signed into law a new constitution for South Africa. (December)

1997 He stepped down as leader of the ANC.

1999 His presidency ended. (June)