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In Tribute: Nelson Mandela's Remarkable Life

Anton Enus


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a Xhosa, was born into greatness in 1918. A descendant of the Nkosi - or king - of the Thembu people.

He began to excel at two things: as a young lawyer and an activist, making a name for himself nationally.

While head of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto We Siswe - Spear of the Nation - Nelson Mandela was captured and put on trial for treason and sabotage.

During the trial in Johannesburg in 1964 - his statement from the dock defined him as a man - and as the politician he would eventually become:

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. 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 will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

- July 18, 1918: Born into Thembu royal family in Mvezo village in southeastern South Africa.

- 1940: Expelled from Fort Hare University College for participating in a student strike.

- 1941: Moves to Johannesburg, becomes policeman at a mine.

- 1943: Joins the African National Congress (ANC).

- 1944: Marries Evelyn Mase, a trainee nurse.

- 1952: Opens the first black law practice in Johannesburg with Oliver Tambo.

- December 5, 1956: Is among 156 political activists arrested and charged with treason.

- 1958: Marries social worker Nomzamo Zaniewe Winifred "Winnie" Madikizela after divorcing his first wife.

- March 21, 1960: Security forces massacre 67 protesters in Sharpeville. The government bans ANC and Pan African Congress and declares state of emergency.

- 1961: Acquitted in treason trial along with co-accused.

- December 16, 1961: Launch of ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), with Mandela as commander in chief.

- August 5, 1962: Captured and sentenced on November 7 to five years in prison for inciting a strike and leaving the country illegally.

- 1963: While serving this sentence, is charged with sabotage along with other ANC activists arrested in Rivonia near Johannesburg.

- June 12, 1964: After famous speech from the dock (democracy "is an ideal for which I am prepared to die"), is sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island prison off Cape Town.

- July 5, 1989: Meets president P.W. Botha and then on December 13 with F.W. de Klerk, who later becomes Botha's successor.

- February 11, 1990: Released from prison.

- July 5, 1991: Elected ANC president.

- April, 1992: Separates from his wife Winnie.

- October 15, 1993: Wins Nobel Peace Prize with De Klerk.

- April 27, 1994: Votes for the first time in his life in the country's first all-race elections.

- May 10, 1994: Inaugurated as president.

- July 18, 1998: Marries Graca Machel, widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel.

- 1999: Steps down as president after one term.

- June 1, 2004: Announces his retirement from public life.

- January 6, 2005: Announces that his son Makgatho had died of AIDS.

- April 19, 2009: Makes his final political address in a recorded message at an ANC election rally.

- July 11, 2010: Appears at the closing ceremony of the Football World Cup in South Africa.

- January 28, 2011: Discharged from hospital after two days of treatment for an acute respiratory infection.

- May 23, 2011: Moves to his village home in Qunu.

- December 8, 2012: Admitted to hospital in Pretoria to be treated for a lung infection and gall stones.

- December 26, 2012: Mandela is discharged from hospital.

- January 6, 2013: Doctors say Mandela has "recovered" although he continues to receive care at his home in Johannesburg.

- March 9, 2013: Admitted overnight to a Pretoria hospital for a "scheduled medical check-up". Discharged the following day after "successful" tests.

- March 27, 2013: Mandela is readmitted to hospital for a recurring lung infection which doctors say is pneumonia.

- June 8, 2013: Mandela is readmitted to hospital with a renewed lung infection and is in a "serious but stable condition", the presidency says.

- June 22: The presidency says the icon remains in a "serious but stable condition in hospital", as the US news channel CBS says that Mandela is "unresponsive" and "has not opened his eyes for days".

- 23: Mandela's condition appears to have worsened. The presidency says Mandela has been in a critical condition "over the past 24 hours".

- 25: Close family of Mandela gather at his rural homestead in Qunu.

- 26: Mandela is on life support, an elder in Mandela's clan, Napilisi Mandela, says.

President Zuma cancels a trip to Mozambique.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon says that the whole world is praying for Mandela, "one of the giants of the 20th century".

Court documents filed that evening claim Mandela is in a "vegetative state" and that Mandela's doctors advised his family to turn off his life support machine, citing his perilous health.

- 27: There is relief as Zuma says that the condition of Mandela had improved overnight. He remains critical but stable.

His daughter Makaziwe Mandela says his condition is "very critical" and "anything is imminent".

- 30: Visiting US President Barack Obama goes to Robben Island and visits the cell where Mandela spent 18 years as a political prisoner.

A day earlier Obama had hailed him as "an inspiration to the world" and met members of his family.

- July 5, 2013: Mandela's doctors have rejected the idea of turning off life support unless he suffers massive organ failure, a close family friend says.

- 10: The presidency reports that Mandela is "responding to treatment."

- 18: Mandela spends his 95th birthday in hospital, his health is said to be "steadily improving."

- August 24, 2013: The South African government says Mandela's health is unstable at times but he has shown "great resilience" and his condition tends to stabilise as a result of medical interventions."

- 31: The presidency denies reports Mandela has been discharged from hospital.

- September 1, 2013: Mandela is discharged from hospital and is moved to his Johannesburg home, where he will continue to receive intensive medical care.

He "remains critical and is at times unstable" the presidency said.

- December 5: President Jacob Zuma announces the death of Mandela, aged 95.


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