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Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Landmarks of Nelson Mandela's life
Nelson Mandela
BBC News Online takes a look at key events in Nelson Mandela's life and fight for freedom:

Early Days

1918 - Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela is born into a tribal clan in a small village in South Africa's Eastern Cape. He is later given his English name, Nelson, by a teacher at his school.

1919 - His father is dispossessed on the orders of a white magistrate, losing most of his cattle, land and income.

1927 - With the death of his father, he is placed in the care of the acting chief of the Thembu clan, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

Campaign begins

1943 - Joins the African National Congress (ANC), initially as an activist.

Winnie Mandela
His former wife Winnie
1944 - With close friends Oliver Tambo and Walter Sislu, Mr Mandela forms the Youth League of the ANC. Marries his first wife, Evelyn Mase. They were divorced in 1957 after having three children.

1955 - The Freedom Charter is adopted at the Congress of the People, calling for equal rights and equal share of wealth with the country's white population.

1956 - Mr Mandela, along with 155 other political activists, is accused of conspiring to overthrow the South African state by violent means, and is charged with high treason. But the charges are dropped after a four-year trial.


Campaigners press for Mr Mandela's release
1958 - Marries Winnie Madikizela.

1960 - Police open fire on men, women and children in Sharpeville protesting at the new Pass Laws which limited the movement of blacks, killing 69 of them. The ANC is banned and Mandela forms an underground military wing.

Life sentence

1964 - Captured by police after more than a year on the run, he is convicted of sabotage and treason in June and sentenced to life imprisonment, initially on Robben island.

His wife Winnie spearheads a campaign for his release.

Robben Island prison
Mr Mandela was kept on Robben Island for 18 years
1968 and 1969 - His mother dies and his eldest son is killed in a car crash. Mandela is not allowed to attend the funerals.

1980 - His friend Mr Tambo, who is in exile, launches an international campaign for his release.

1986 - The international community tightens sanctions against South Africa. It is estimated that, between 1988 and 1990, the economic embargoes cost the country's treasury more than $4bn in revenue.

Changing times

1990 - Bowing to the pressure, President FW de Klerk lifts the ban on the ANC and Mr Mandela is released from prison.

The ANC and the white National Party soon begin talks on forming a multi-racial democracy for South Africa.

Mandela and de Klerk shake hands
Mandela and de Klerk shake hands
1992 - Divorces Winnie after she is convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault.

1993 - Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to transform South Africa against a backdrop of bloodshed.

1994 - In the first multi-racial democratic elections in South Africa's history, Mr Mandela is elected president. The ANC won 252 of the 400 seats in the national assembly.

Mandela and Mbeki
Stepping aside for Mr Mbeki
1995 - South Africa wins the Rugby Union World Cup, and Mr Mandela is publicly presented with a team jersey by the team captain, seen as a highly symbolic gesture of unity between blacks and whites.

1998 - Marries Graca Machel, the widow of the former president of Mozambique on his 80th birthday.

1999 - Steps down as president to make way for Thabo Mbeki, who was nominated ANC president in 1997.

2000 -Appointed as mediator in the civil war in Burundi

2001 - Aged 83, he is diagnosed with prostate cancer.


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