NELSON Mandela, the revered icon of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and one of the towering political figures of the 20th century, has died aged 95.

Nelson Mandela: Before Prisoner, Beyond President

Nelson Mandela: Before Prisoner, Beyond President

Date of Birth: July 18, 1918

Place of Birth: Eastern Cape of South Africa

Father — Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa

Mother — Nosekeni Fanny


  • Evylyn Ntoko Mase (1944 – 19 March 1958, divorce) (b.1922 – died 2004)
    • son: Madiba “Thembi” Thembekile (1946–July 13, 1969) (Car Accident)
    • daughter: Makaziwe, 1947 – 1948;
    • son: Makgatho Mandela (26 June 1950–January 6, 2005) (AIDS)
    • daughter: Makaziwe Mandela (known as Maki; born 1953)
  • Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela. (14 June 1958 – 19 March 1996, divorce)
    • daughter: Zenani (Zeni), born 4 February 1959
    • daughter: Zindziswa (Zindzi) Mandela-Hlongwane, born Dec 1960
  • Graca Machel (July 18, 1998 – present)

July 18th, 1918: Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela is born into the Madiba clan, a cadet branch of the Thembu royal family, in the small village of Mvezo, in the Transkei, South Africa. The name Rolihlahla means “pulling the branch of the tree”, or more colloquially “troublemaker.”

1927: When his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa dies, he is placed under the guardianship of the Thembu Regent, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

Nelson Mandela early education

  • 1925: Attends a primary school near Qunu, where he is given the name Nelson by a teacher.
  • 1934: Attends Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo, in the Eastern Cape Province.
  • 1937: Enrolls in Healdtown Wesleyan College at Fort Beaufort.

1939 — 1942:

  • 1939-Attends the University College of Fort Hare, studying for a B.A. and meeting his lifelong friend Oliver Tambo.
  • 1940- Mandela and Tambo are expelled from university for political activism.
  • 1941-Upon returning to the Transkei, Mandela learned of a marriage arranged for him by his guardian. He flees to Johannesburg and begins work as a night-watchman at a gold mine. Meets Walter Sisulu who helps him get a job at the law firm of Witkin, Sidelsky, and Eidelman
  • 1942- Completed his B.A. Via correspondence at the University of South Africa (now UNISA). Began informally attending meetings of the African National Congress (ANC)
  • 1943- Graduates with BA from Fort Hare. Started studying law at the University of Witwatersrand. Campaigns against bus price increases. This is Mandela’s first exposure to mass action.


  • Mandela marries Evylyn Ntoko Mase, cousin to Walter Sisulu.
  • Begins his political career by formally joining the ANC.
  • Disillusioned with the “dying order of pseudo-liberalism and conservatism, of appeasement and compromise.” that was the leadership of the ANC, Mandela, and along with Sisulu, Tambo, and a few others found the ANC Youth League (ANCYL)


  • Elected as national secretary of the ANCYL, and becomes a member of the leadership of the Transvaal branch of the ANC.
  • Spurred on by the Herenigde Nationale Party’s (HNP) platform of complete racial segregation, “To All Africans and Friends of Justice” a flyer calling for the abolition of the Pass Laws and the removal of Land Restrictions against Africans in urban and rural areas, is released by ANC president Dr. A.B Xuma.


  • Mandela settled for practicing as an attorney after failing to pass the exams required for his LLB degree.
  • 26 May, The HNP won 1948 general election with the most seats but a large minority of the popular vote, and instituted its policy of racial segregation that would later become known globally as Apartheid. The HNP later merged with the Afrikaner Party, and reverted to the short name, the Nasionale Party (National Party).

1951:Mandela is elected President of the ANCYL.


  • The ANC implemented a national campaign of non-cooperation with certain laws considered unjust and discriminatory, which would come to be known as the Defiance Campaign.
  • July 30: Mandela and 19 others are arrested and charged with violating the Suppression of Communism Act. All 20 are found guilty of “Statutory Communism” and sentenced to nine months hard labor, though the sentence is suspended for two years.
  • August: Mandela and Tambo set up South Africa’s first Black law firm in Chancellor House across from the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.


  • Mandela and Tambo draft the M-Plan (Mandela Plan), in which the ANC would be broken down into cells so that it could continue to operate underground if necessary.
  • March, Criminal Law Amendment Act No. 8 is passed. This Act makes civil disobedience punishable by a three year prison sentence

1955 – 1961:

  • 26 June 1955: the Congress of the People in adopt the Freedom Charter. On 5 December 1956, The government arrested a total of 156 people, including Nelson Mandela, on charges of “high treason and a countrywide conspiracy to use violence to overthrow the present government and replace it with a communist state.” The punishment for high treason was death. The trial dragged on until the accused were finally acquitted in March 1961. “We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.”
  • Divorce: His marriage to Evylyn Ntoko Mase ended in January, 1958.
  • 21 March,1960- In a peaceful anti-pass march led by the Pan African Congress (PAC) at a police station in Sharpeville, the police opened fire on the protestors, killing 69 and wounding 186 in what becomes known as the Sharpeville Massacre, signaling the start of armed resistance in South Africa.
  • In a show of solidarity, Mandela publicly burned his pass as rioting broke out across South Africa, leading the government to declare a state of emergency, and on March 30, 1960, Mandela and other activists were arrested and imprisoned without charge, but were freed from prison when the state of emergency was lifted in late August.
  • Both the ANC and PAC were banned by the South African government under the Unlawful Organizations Act in 1960
  • 1961:
    • On 29 March 1961, after six years the Judges in the Treason Trial hand down a not guilty verdict. Factoid: During the Treason Trial Mandela met and married his second wife, Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela.
    • 31 May, Amidst nationwide strikes, South Africa becomes a republic and the country’s membership of the Commonwealth simultaneously expires.
    • Straying from the ANC’s philosophy of passive resistance, Mandela is instrumental in forming and becomes the first commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation, MK), a military wing of the ANC. On December 16, MK announces its existence by bombing government structures and installations in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban.
  • 1962:
    • Mandela is smuggled out of South Africa to attend the February 1962 Pan-African Freedom Movement for East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) meeting in Ethiopia.
    • He journeyed to London were he met with activists, reporters and politicians, garnering support for his cause.
    • He returned to Ethiopia for guerrilla training, completing only two months of training before returning to South Africa.
    • 5 August, Mandela is arrested just outside Howick, Natal after the police receive a tip-off from a CIA agent based in Durban.
    • 7 November, Nelson Mandela is sentenced to five years in prison for incitement and leaving the country without a passport.
  • 1963: