Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 17:53 UK
Mandela celebrates 90th birthday

Early daysHope for AfricaArrests and trialsWalk to freedomPeace prizeNew presidentReturn to RobbenQuiet lifeBirthday celebrations


18 July 1918
Rolihlahla Mandela is born in a small South African village called Mvezo.

Mandela becomes the first person in his family to go to school. A teacher gives him the name Nelson after having difficulty pronouncing his real name.


Nelson Mandela
Having passed his Junior Certificate in two years at Clarkebury Boarding Institute Mandela joins Healdtown, a college in Fort Beaufort.

Mandela flees to Johannesburg, to avoid an arranged marriage. There he meets Walter Sisulu and begins work at his law firm.

Two years after joining the African National Congress (ANC), Mandela and 60 other young members form the ANC Youth League.

The National Party comes to power on the policy of apartheid. The ANC launch a campaign of passive resistance against the laws. They later begin the Campaign for the Defence of Unjust Laws.

Mandela sets up the country's first black law firm with Oliver Tambo. They provide legal services to those who would have normally had no representation.


The ANC is concerned that it will be banned so Mandela is tasked with ensuring the party can work underground.

Along with 155 others, Mandela is arrested and charged with treason. After a four-year trial, the charges are dropped.

Nelson Mandela - 1992

21 March 1960
Police kill 69 people, including women and children, as black people protest in Sharpeville against restrictions on their freedom of movement. A state of emergency is declared, amid fears of retaliation, and the ANC is banned.

The ANC concludes that peaceful protest is not enough to combat apartheid and forms an underground military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). Mandela, now vice-president of the ANC, is appointed as the group's first leader.

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Having spent a year underground, Mandela is arrested for leaving the country illegally. He is sentenced to five years in jail.

While Mandela is in prison, fellow ANC members are arrested. They are charged with sabotage and treason, along with Mandela. The men appear in court in Rivonia.

12 June 1964
At the end of the eight-month trial, Mandela and seven other defendants are given life sentences and taken to prison on Robben Island.

March 1982
Mandela and fellow ANC leaders are transferred to Pollsmoor Prison.

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11 February 1990
Mandela is freed after 27 years, as a result of a relaxation of apartheid laws and the lifting of the ban on the ANC. He is greeted by large crowds as he and wife Winnie leave the prison grounds.

Nelson Mandela on his 'walk to freedom'

At the ANC's first national conference in South Africa, Mandela is elected president of the party.

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Nelson Mandela's speech at the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

Mandela, along with South African President FW De Klerk, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to bring stability to South Africa.

Accepting the award, Mandela says: "We will do what we can to contribute to the renewal of our world."

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"Let there be justice for all, let there be peace for all": Nelson Mandela

27 April 1994
South Africans, including Nelson Mandela, vote in the country's first democratic election.

Mandela, leader of the ANC, is elected as the country's first black president.

10 May 1994
Nelson Mandela addresses the crowds at his inauguration, saying: "Let freedom reign, God bless Africa!"

Thabo Mbeki, Mandela's deputy, takes over the day-to-day running of government, leaving Mandela to promote the country around the world.

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February 1995
To mark the fifth anniversary of his release, Nelson Mandela visits Robben Island, the prison he was held in for 18 years.

Nelson Mandela revisits his cell on Robben Island

Thabo Mbeki takes over from Mandela as president of South Africa and goes on to win the 1999 presidential election.

Mandela is diagnosed with prostate cancer and begins a course of radiation.

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Nelson Mandela jokes as he announces his retirement

Announcing his retirement from public life, Mandela says he plans to enjoy a quieter life and spend more time with his family.

Joking with reporters, he says: "The appeal therefore is - don't call me, I'll call you."


Despite his retirement, Mandela forms The Elders. The group, which includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other statesmen and women, aims to help tackle the world's problems.

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Musicians, film stars and politicians join Mandela at a concert in London's Hyde Park to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Speaking to the crowd he says "It is time for new hands to lift the burdens, it is in your hands now."

Stars wish Mandela happy birthday before he addresses the crowd

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