Sir Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Nelson Mandela Biography


Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, Transkei, on 18 

July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa 

Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba 

Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla 

became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni.*

Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he 

dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the name 

Nelson, in accordance with the custom to give all school children “Christian” names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to 

Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

Nelson Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of 

Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student 


He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for 

his graduation in 1943.

On his return to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn’t 

return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away 

to Johannesburg instead, arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer 

and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. He 

then did his articles through a firm of attorneys, Witkin Eidelman and Sidelsky.

Meanwhile he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his 

own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating. 

He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment 

in 1962 but also did not complete that degree.

In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the 

University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Nelson Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African 

National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League.

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons, Madiba 

Thembekile "Thembi" and Makgatho and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of 

whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.

Nelson Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC 

adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action in 1949.

In 1952 he was chosen at the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with 

Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws 

was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 

others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the 

campaign and sentenced to nine months hard labour, suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Nelson Mandela to practice law, and in 

August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela 

and Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only 

permitted to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on 26 June 


Nelson Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop on 5 December 1955, which led 

to the 1956 Treason Trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the 

marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mandela were 

acquitted on 29 March 1961.

On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest in Sharpeville against the 

pass laws.This led to the country’s first state of emergency and the banning of the ANC and 

the Pan Africanist Congress on 8 April. Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason 

Trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial on 14 June 1958 Nelson Mandela married a social worker, Winnie 

Madikizela. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the end of the Treason Trial Nelson Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg to 

speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved that he should write to Prime 

Minister Verwoerd requesting a non-racial national convention, and to warn that should 

he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. As 

soon as he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial Nelson Mandela went 

underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March. In the face of 

massive mobilisation of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was 

asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the 

Nation) which launched on 16 December 1961 with a series of explosions.

On 11 January 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Nelson Mandela secretly 

left South Africa. He travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the 


struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South 

Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August 

while returning from KwaZulu-Natal where he had briefed ANC President Chief Albert 

Luthuli about his trip.

He was charged with leaving the country illegally and inciting workers to strike. He was 

convicted and sentenced to five years' imprisonment which he began serving in the 

Pretoria Local Prison. On 27 May 1963 he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to 

Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided Liliesleaf, a secret hide-out in Rivonia 

used by ANC and Communist Party activists, and several of his comrades were arrested.

On 9 October 1963 Nelson Mandela joined ten others on trial for sabotage in what became 

known as the Rivonia Trial. While facing the death penalty his words to the court at the 

end of his famous ‘Speech from the Dock’ on 20 April 1964 became immortalised:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I 

have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live 

together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for 

and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

On 11 June 1964 Nelson Mandela and seven other accused: Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, 

Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni 

were convicted and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment. Denis Goldberg was 

sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white, while the others went to Robben Island.

Nelson Mandela’s mother died in 1968 and his eldest son Thembi in 1969. He was not 

allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 March 1982 Nelson Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town with 

Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he returned to the 

prison in November 1985 after prostate surgery Nelson Mandela was held alone. Justice 

Minister Kobie Coetsee visited him in hospital. Later Nelson Mandela initiated talks about 

an ultimate meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

On 12 August 1988 he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. 

After more than three months in two hospitals he was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a 

house at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl where he spent his last 14 months of 

imprisonment. He was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after 

the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC and nearly four months after the release of his 

remaining Rivonia comrades. Throughout his imprisonment he had rejected at least three 

conditional offers of release.

Nelson Mandela immersed himself in official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 

was elected ANC President to replace his ailing friend Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and 

President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994 he voted for 

the first time in his life.

On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President. 

On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He 

continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and 

established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

In April 2007 his grandson Mandla Mandela was installed as head of the Mvezo Traditional 

Council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. 

Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an 

inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.

He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

Nelson Mandela's father died in 1930 when Mandela was 12 and his mother died in 1968 

when he was in prison. While the autobiographyLong Walk to Freedom places Madiba’s 

father’s death in 1927, historical evidence shows it must have been later, most likely 1930. 

In fact, the original Long Walk to Freedom manuscript (written on Robben Island) states 

the year as 1930.


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (born July 18, 1918, died 5 December, 2013 aged 95)


Father: Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Henry (died 1930)*

Mother: Noqaphi Nosekeni (died 1968)

Mr Mandela has been married three times.

He had six children, four girls and two boys.

A daughter and two sons passed away: Makaziwe died as an infant in 1948; Madiba 

Thembekile [Thembi] died in a car accident in 1969 and Makgatho Lewanika died of an 

AIDS-related illness in 2005.

His surviving children are Pumla Makaziwe [Maki], Zenani and Zindziswa [Zindzi]


1944 Married Evelyn Ntoko Mase (born 1922, died April 30, 2004) – Divorced March 19, 


June 14, 1958 Married Winifred Nomzamo Zanyiwe Madikizela (born 1936) – Divorced 

March 19, 1996

July 18, 1998 Married Graça Machel (born 1945)


With Evelyn Mase

1. Madiba Thembekile Mandela (born 1945, died July 13, 1969 aged 24)

2. Makaziwe Mandela (died 1948 aged nine months)

3. Magkatho Lewanika Mandela (born 1950, died January 6, 2005 aged 55)

4. Pumla Makaziwe Mandela (born 1954)

With Winnie Mandela

5. Zenani Dlamini (born 1959)

6. Zindzi Mandela (born 1960)


1. Ndileka Mandela [1965—F—Thembi]

2. Nandi Mandela [1968—F—Thembi]

3. Mandla Mandela [1974—M—Makgatho]

4. Ndaba Mandela [1983—M—Makgatho]

5. Mbuso Mandela [1991—M—Makgatho]

6. Andile Mandela [1993—M—Makgatho]

7. Tukwini Mandela [1974—F—Makaziwe]

8. Dumani Mandela[1976—M—Makaziwe]

9. Kweku Mandela [1985—M—Makaziwe]

10. Zaziwe Manaway [1977—F—Zenani]

11. Zamaswazi Dlamini [1979—F—Zenani]

12. Zinhle Dlamini [1980—M—Zenani]

13. Zozuko Dlamini [1992—M—Zenani]

14. Zoleka Mandela [1980—F—Zindzi]

15. Zondwa Mandela [1985—M—Zindzi]

16. Bambatha Mandela [1989—M—Zindzi]

17. Zwelabo Mandela [1992—M—Zindzi]


1. Ziyanda Manaway [2000—M—Zaziwe]

2. Zipokhazi Manaway [2009—F—Zaziwe]

3. Zenani Mandela [1997–2010—F—Zoleka ]

4. Zwelami Mandela [2003—M—Zoleka]

5. Zamakhosi Obiri [2008—F—Zamaswazi]

6. Thembela Mandela [1984—M—Ndileka]

7. Pumla Mandela [1993—F—Ndileka]

8. Hlanganani Mandela [1986—M—Nandi]

9. Zazi Kazimla Vitalia Mandela [2010—F—Zondwa]

10. Lewanika Ngubencuka Mandela [2010—M—Ndaba]

11. Zenawe Zibuyile Mandela [2011–2011—M—Zoleka]

12. Qheya II Zanethemba Mandela [2011—M—Mandla]

13. Ziwelene Linge Mandela [2011—M—Zondwa]

14. Zenkosi John Brunson Manaway [2012—M—Zaziwe]

15. Zanyiwe Zenzile Bashala [2014—F—Zoleka]

*His father died in 1930 when Mr Mandela was 12 and his mother died in 1968 when he was 

in prison. While the autobiography Long Walk to Freedom places Madiba’s father’s death in 

1927, historical evidence shows it must have been later, most likely 1930. In fact, the 

original Long Walk to Freedom manuscript (written on Robben Island) states the year as 


Prison timeline

Prison timeline with Nelson Mandela's prison numbers

5 August 1962: Arrested

7 November 1962: Sentenced to five years for leaving the country without a passport and 

incitement. Begins serving his sentence at the Pretoria Local Prison

Prisoner number: 19476/62

27 May 1963: Transferred to Robben Island

12 June 1963: Transferred back to Pretoria Local Prison

Prisoner number: 11657/63

11 June 1964: Convicted of sabotage along with Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond 

Mhlaba, Govan Mbeki, Elias Motsoaledi, Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni

12 June 1964: Sentenced to life imprisonment with Sisulu, Kathrada, Mhlaba, Mbeki, 

Motsoaledi, Goldberg and Mlangeni

13 June 1964: Arrives on Robben Island with Sisulu, Kathrada, Mhlaba, Mbeki, Motsoaledi 

and Mlangeni. Goldberg is sent to Pretoria as he is white

Prisoner number: 466/64

31 March 1982: Transferred to Pollsmoor Prison with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. They 

are joined by Kathrada in October

Prisoner number: 220/82

28 February 1985: Goldberg is released

5 November 1987: Mbeki is released from Robben Island

12 August 1988: Taken to Tygerberg Hospital where TB is diagnosed

31 August 1988: Transferred to Constantiaberg MediClinic

7 December 1988: Transferred to Victor Verster Prison

Prisoner number: 1335/88

15 October 1989: Sisulu, Kathrada, Mhlaba, Motsoaledi and Mlangeni released with Oscar 

Mpetha and Jeff Masemola

11 February 1990: Madiba released from Victor Verster Prison


Trials and prison chronology

  • 7 November 1962: 19476/62 – Pretoria Local Prison

  • 1963: 11657/63 – Pretoria Local Prison. When he returned to Pretoria after a short spell on Robben Island

  • June 1964: 466/64 – Robben Island

  • March 1982: 220/82 – Pollsmoor Prison

  • 7 December 1988: 1335/88 – Victor Verster Prison

2 December 1952: Nelson Mandela is convicted with 19 others for his role in the 1952 

Defiance Campaign and sentenced to nine months' hard labour, suspended for two years

21 March 1960: Sixty-nine peaceful protesters are killed by police at Sharpeville

8 April 1960: The apartheid regime bans the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan 

Africanist Congress (PAC)

29 March 1961: Mandela is acquitted with 27 remaining accused in the four-and-a-half year 

Treason Trial. Goes underground

11 January 1962: Leaves the country for military training and to gather support for the 

newly formed armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation)

23 July 1962: Returns to South Africa via Botswana

5 August 1962: Arrested at a roadblock near Howick, KwaZulu-Natal

7 November 1962: Sentenced to five years in prison for incitement and leaving the country 

illegally. Begins serving his sentence at Pretoria Local Prison and is assigned the prisoner 

number 19476/62

27 May 1963: Transferred to Robben Island Prison

12 June 1963: Transferred to Pretoria Local Prison

9 October 1963: Appears, for the first time, with 10 others in the Palace of Justice in 

Pretoria. They become the accused in the Rivonia Trial. The case is remanded to 29 



Nelson Mandela

Walter Sisulu

Govan Mbeki

Ahmed Kathrada

Raymond Mhlaba

Denis Goldberg

Elias Motsoaledi

Rusty Bernstein

Bob Hepple

Andrew Mlangeni

James Kantor

29 October 1963: The defence applies for the quashing of the indictment alleging 199 acts 

of sabotage

30 October 1963: Prosecutor Percy Yutar announces that Bob Hepple would become a 

state witness. He is released and skips the country. The indictment against the 10 others is 

quashed. They are immediately rearrested

1 November 1963: Justice Quartus de Wet refuses bail to Kantor and Bernstein. The case is 

remanded to 12 November

12 November 1963: Yutar presents a new indictment splitting the sabotage charges into 

two parts. The case is remanded to 25 November

25 November 1963: The 199 alleged acts of sabotage are reduced to 193. The defence applies 

to have the new indictment quashed

26 November 1963: Justice De Wet dismisses the application to have the indictment 


27 November 1963: The trial is remanded to 3 December, after Kantor’s new defence 

requests time to prepare

3 December 1963: The 10 accused plead not guilty to sabotage in the Rivonia Trial

4 March 1964: Kantor is discharged and released

20 April 1964: Mandela makes his famous Speech from the Dock, in which he says he is 

“prepared to die” for a democratic South Africa

11 June 1964: All except Bernstein are convicted of sabotage

12 June 1964: Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life imprisonment

12 June 1964: All except Goldberg are sent to Robben Island to serve their sentences. 

Goldberg, as the only white person convicted in the trial, is held in Pretoria Central Prison. 

Mandela is assigned the prisoner number 466/64

24 September 1968: Mandela’s mother Nosekeni dies. He is forbidden from attending her 


13 July 1969: Mandela’s eldest son, Thembekile, is killed in a car accident. Mandela is 

forbidden from attending his son's funeral

31 March 1982: Mandela, Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni, and later Kathrada, are transferred 

to Pollsmoor Prison. Mandela is assigned the prisoner number 220/82

10 February 1985: Rejects President PW Botha's offers to release him and other political 

prisoners if they renounce violence

28 February 1985: Goldberg, who has been held apart from his comrades for more than 20 

years, accepts the offer and is released

3 November 1985: Mandela admitted to the Volks Hospital in Cape Town for prostate 


23 November 1985: Is discharged from the Volks Hospital and held in a cell alone at 

Pollsmoor Prison, from where he begins communicating with the government about 

eventual talks with the ANC

16 May 1986: Meets with an Eminent Persons Group from the Commonwealth Group of 


20 July 1986: Holds his first meeting with Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee about talks 

between the government and the ANC

5 November 1987: Govan Mbeki is released from Robben Island

12 August 1988: Mandela admitted to Tygerberg Hospital, where he is diagnosed with 


31 August 1988: Transferred to Constantiaberg MediClinic to continue his treatment

7 December 1988: Is transferred to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl, where he is held in the 

house formerly occupied by a warder. Mandela is assigned the prisoner number 1335/88

5 July 1989: Meets PW Botha in his office in Cape Town

15 October 1989: Sisulu, Kathrada, Motsoaledi, Mlangeni and Mhlaba are released, along 

with Oscar Mpetha and PAC prisoner Jeff Masemola

13 December 1989: Meets President FW de Klerk at his office in Cape Town

2 February 1990: At the opening of Parliament, De Klerk announces the unbanning of all 

political organisations, including the ANC

10 February 1990: Meets De Klerk, who says he will be released the next day in 

Johannesburg. Mandela objects, saying he wants to walk through the gates of Victor 

Verster Prison, and asks for two weeks for ANC to prepare. De Klerk refuses the extension 

but agrees to release him from Victor Verster

10 February 1990: De Klerk announces at a press conference that Nelson Mandela will be 

released the next day

11 February 1990: Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison

11 February 1990: He addresses thousands of well-wishers gathered on the Grand Parade, 

from the balcony of the City Hall in Cape Town. Spends the night at Bishopscourt, the 

official residence of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

12 February 1990: Holds a press conference in the garden of Bishopscourt. Flies to 


12 February 1990: Spends the night in North Riding, at the home of a supporter, Sally 


13 February 1990: Flies to FNB Stadium in Soweto for a welcome home rally

13 February 1990: Spends his first night in decades at his family home, 8115 Orlando West, 


The late Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is sometimes referred to by other names.

Each name has its own special meaning and story. When you use them you should know 

what you are saying and why. So here is a brief explanation of each name.

Rolihlahla – This was Mr Mandela’s birth name: it is an isiXhosa name which means 

“pulling the branch of a tree”, but colloquially it means “troublemaker”. His father gave 

him this name.

Nelson – This name was given to him on his first day at school by his teacher, Miss 

Mdingane. Giving African children English names was a custom among Africans in those 

days and was influenced by British colonials who could not easily, and often would not, 

pronounce African names. It is unclear why Miss Mdingane chose the name “Nelson” for 

Mr Mandela.

Madiba – This is the name of the clan of which Mr Mandela was a member. A clan name is 

much more important than a surname as it refers to the ancestor from which a person is 

descended. Madiba was the name of a Thembu chief who ruled in the Transkei in the 18th 

century. It is considered very polite to use someone’s clan name.

Tata – This isiXhosa word means “father” and is a term of endearment that many South 

Africans use for Mr Mandela. Since he was a father figure to many, they call him Tata 

regardless of their own age.

Khulu – Mr Mandela is often referred to as “Khulu”, which means great, paramount, grand. 

The speaker means “Great One” when referring to Mr Mandela in this way. It is also a 

shortened form of the isiXhosa word “Tat'omkhulu” for “grandfather”.

Dalibhunga – This is the name Mr Mandela was given at the age of 16 once he had 

undergone initiation, the traditional Xhosa rite of passage into manhood. It means “creator 

or founder of the council” or “convenor of the dialogue”. 

To condense all of Mr Nelson Mandela's achievements into one chronology would be 

impossible; as a result, we do not claim that our work here is comprehensive. Below you 

will find a chronology of important events in his life. It is a work in progress and we are 

happy to receive your comments or additions.

1918July 18
Born Rolihlahla Mandela at Mvezo in the Transkei
Attends primary school near Qunu (receives the name ‘Nelson’ from a teacher)
Father dies.Entrusted to Thembu Regent Jongintaba Dalindyebo at the age of 12
While his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom places Mandela's father’s death in 1927, historical evidence shows it must have been later, most likely 1930. In fact, the original Long Walk to Freedom manuscript (written on Robben Island) states the year as 1930.
Undergoes initiation; Attends Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo
Attends Healdtown, the Wesleyan College at Fort Beaufort
Enrols at the University College of Fort Hare, in Alice
Escapes an arranged marriage; becomes a mine security officer; starts articles at the law firm Witkin, Sidelsky & Eidelman
Completes BA through the University of South Africa (UNISA)
Begins to attend African National Congress (ANC) meetings informally
Graduates with BA from Fort Hare; Enrols for an LLB at Wits University
Co-founds the ANC Youth League (ANCYL); marries Evelyn Ntoko Mase – they have four children: Thembekile (1945); Makaziwe (1947 – who dies after nine months); Makgatho (1950); Makaziwe (1954)
Elected national secretary of the ANCYL
Elected President of the ANCYL
Defiance Campaign begins; Arrested and charged for violating the Suppression of Communism Act; Elected Transvaal ANC President; Convicted with J.S Moroka, Walter Sisulu and 17 others under the Suppression of Communism Act; Sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labour, suspended for two years; Elected first of ANC deputy presidents; Opens South Africa’s first black law firm with Oliver Tambo
Devises the M-Plan for the ANC’s future underground operations
195526 June
Watches as the Congress of the People at Kliptown adopts the Freedom Charter
19565 December
Arrested and later joins 155 others on trial for teason. All are acquitted by 29 March 1961
Divorces Evelyn Mase; Marries Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela – they have two daughters: Zenani (1959) and Zindzi (1960)
196021 March
Sharpeville Massacre
 30 March
A State of Emergency is imposed and he is among thousands detained
 8 April
The ANC is banned
Goes underground; Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) is formed
196211 January
Leaves the country for military training and to garner support for the ANC
 23 July
Returns to South Africa
 5 August
Arrested near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal
 7 November
Sentenced to five years in prison for incitement and leaving the country without a passport
196327 May
Sent to Robben Island
12 June
Returned to Pretoria Local Prison
 9 October
Appears in court for the first time in what becomes known as the Rivonia Trial, with Walter Sisulu, Denis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Lionel 'Rusty' Bernstein, Raymond Mhlaba, James Kantor, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni
 3 December
Pleads not guilty to sabotage in the Rivonia Trial
19644 June
James Kantor discharged and released

 12 JuneAll except Rusty Bernstein are convicted and sentenced to life
 13 June
Arrives on Robben Island
196913 July
Thembekile is killed in a car accident
198231 March
Mandela, Sisulu, Raymond Mhlaba and Andrew Mlangeni and later Ahmed Kathrada are sent to Pollsmoor Prison
198510 February
Rejects, through his daughter, Zindzi, South African President PW Botha's offer to release him if he renounces violence
19853 November
Admitted to the Volks Hospital for prostate surgery
 23 November 
Discharged from Volks Hospital and returned to Pollsmoor Prison
198812 August
Admitted to Tygerberg Hospital where he is diagnosed with tuberculosis
 31 August
Admitted to Constantiaberg MediClinic
 7 December
Moved to Victor Verster Prison in Paarl where he is held for 14 months in a cottage
19902 February
ANC is unbanned
 11 February
 2 March
Elected ANC Deputy President
199310 December
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with President FW de Klerk
199427 April
Votes for the first time in his life
 9 May
Elected by Parliament as first president of a democratic South Africa
 10 May
Inaugurated as President of the Republic of South Africa
14 December
Launches his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom
Establishes the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund
Divorces Winnie Mandela
199818 July
Marries Graça Machel on his 80th birthday
Steps down after one term as President, establishes the Nelson Mandela Foundation
Diagnosed with prostate cancer
Establishes the Mandela Rhodes Foundation
20041 June
Announces that he will be stepping down from public life
20056 January
Announces that his eldest son Makgatho had died of AIDS
200713 April
Attends the installation of his grandson Mandla as chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council
200827 JuneAsks future generations to continue the fight for social justice
 18 July
Turns 90 years old
Votes for the fourth time in his life; Attends the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma on 9 May and witnesses Zuma's first State of the Nation address; Turns 91
Formally presented with the Fifa World Cup trophy before it embarks on a tour of South Africa
 11 June
His great-granddaughter Zenani is killed in a car accident
 17 June
Attends the funeral of his great-granddaughter Zenani
 11 July
Makes a surprise appearance at the final of the Fifa World Cup in Soweto
 18 July
Celebrates his 92nd birthday at home in Johannesburg with family and friends
 12 October
His second book Conversations with Myself  is published
 18 November
Meets the South African and American football teams that played in the Nelson Mandela Challenge match
Admitted to hospital in Johannesburg. Discharged after two nights
 16 May
Votes in the local government elections
 27 June
His book Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations is launched
 21 June
Visited at home by American First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia
 18 July
Celebrates his 93rd birthday with his family in Qunu, Eastern Cape
 21 October
Officially counted in South Africa’s Census 2011
 25 December
Spends Christmas with family in Qunu, Transkei
201225 February
Admitted to hospital
 26 February
Discharged from hospital 
18 July
Celebrates his 94th birthday with his family in Qunu, Transkei
8 December
Admitted to hospital
26 December
Discharged from hospital
2013 1 January
Spends New Year’s Day with members of his family in Johannesburg
 9 March
Admitted to hospital
 10 March 10
Discharged from hospital
 27 March
Admitted to hospital
 6 April
Discharged from hospital
 8 June
Admitted to hospital
 18 July
Spends his 95th birthday in hospital
 1 September
Discharged from hospital
 5 DecemberPasses away at home in Johannesburg