Madiba through the years

By  | Dec 05, 2018, 07:59 PM

A timeline of Madiba's life: from his days as a prisoner of Robben Island to his involvement and apperance at the 2010 Fifa World Cup, we chat Madiba's life. 


Born Rolihlahla Mandela on 18 July at Mvezo in the Transkei


Attends primary school near Qunu – and receives the name ‘Nelson’ from a teacher


His father passes away, and he’s entrusted to Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting King of the Thembu people (to whom his father was the principle counsellor)


Undergoes initiation and attends Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo where he completed his Junior Certificate


Attends Healdtown, a reputed Wesleyan College at Fort Beaufort – where he matriculated


Starts studying for a BA Degree at the University College of Fort Hare – where he meets Oliver Tambo. Studies English, Anthropology, Politics, Native Administration and Roman Dutch Law, he also takes us sports, excelling in long distance running and boxing


Is expelled (together with Oliver Tambo) for joining in a student protest


Runs away to Johannesburg with his cousin to escape an arranged marriage and becomes a mine night watchman after meeting a young estate agent Walter Sisulu, who took him under his wing


Begins to attend African National Congress (ANC) meetings informally


Attends his graduation at Fort Hare after completing his BA through the University of South Africa – and then enrols for an LLB at Wits University (he leaves in 1948 before completing his degree)


Co-founds the ANC Youth League and married Walter Sisulu’s cousine, Evelyn Ntoko Mase – they had two sons Madiba Thembekile ‘Thembi’ and Makgatho and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy


Elected national secretary of the ANCYL


Elected President of the ANCYL


Rises to prominence in the 1952 Defiance Campaign – a campaign of civil disobedience for which he and 19 others (including Walter Sisulu) were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act sentenced to nine months hard labour suspended for two years.

Elected President of the Transvaal ANC Branch

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allows him to practice law, and he and Oliver Tambo establish South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela and Tambo


Arrested and joins 155 others on trial for Treason. All are acquitted by 29 March 1961


Divorces Evelyn Mase and later Marries Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela – they have two daughters: Zenani and Zindzi


March 21: Sharpeville Massacre

April 8: ANC is banned


Goes underground and co-founds the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), leading a bombing campaign against government targets


January 11: Leaves the country for military training and to garner support for the ANC

August 5: Arrested near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal and sentenced to five years for incitement and leaving the country illegally


May 27: Sent to Robben Island

October: Charged for sabotage in the Rivonia trial with nine others, while serving his sentence


June 11: All except two are convicted and sentenced to life


Sent from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison with Sisulu and three others


Rejects President PW Botha's offer to release him if he renounces violence

November 3: Has prostate surgery


August 12: Diagnosed with Tuberculosis

December 7: Moved to Victor Verster Prison in Paarl


February 2: ANC is unbanned

February 11: Released

March 2: Elected ANC Deputy President


December 10: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with FW de Klerk


April 27: Votes for the first time in his life

May 9: Elected as first president of a democratic South Africa

May 10: Inaugurated

December 14: Launches his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom


Establishes the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund


Divorces Winnie Mandela


July 18: Marries Graça Machel on his 80th birthday


Steps down after one term as President and establishes the Nelson Mandela Foundation


Diagnosed with prostate cancer          


Establishes the Mandela Rhodes Foundation


June 1: Announces that he will be stepping down from public life


January 6: Announces that his eldest son Makgatho had died of AIDS, using it to call for renewed efforts in the fight against the AIDS


Is formally presented with the Fifa World Cup trophy before it embarks on a tour of South Africa

October: His second book Conversations with Myself is published


June: His book Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations is published


Madiba passed away 5 December 2013. After a long, eventful and inspiring life, he may not be with us anymore – but his legacy will remain forever.