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.
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.
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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