Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the leader among all the leaders is one of those few people who have achieved universal acclaim and respect all around the world.
His role in fighting apartheid, 27 years of imprisonment, and his leadership, support and passion towards South African people in times of crises has earned him the reputation of an ideal negotiator and role model.
Mandela, also popularly known as Madiba was born on July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo. He went to Wesleyan College in Fort Beaufort and then studied BA at Fort Hare University. It was there when Mandela met his life-long friend Oliver Tambo.
Here’s a brief rundown of Madiba’s historic life; highlighting some of the most important events.
1943 – 1944
Nelson Mandela became a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and in 1944 forms the Youth League of the ANC along with his friend Oliver Tambo.
In 1944 he married Evelyn Mase and with her he had four children, one of whom died as an infant. His marriage with Evelyn ended in 1957.
Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo opened the first black legal firm in South Africa.
On Dec 5 Mandela and 155 other political activists were charged with treason.
Nelson Mandela married 'Winnie' and had two children with her.
1960 - 1961
The ANC was banned and Mandela went underground forming 'The Spear of the Nation' (MK) military group with arms. In 1962 he issued a call to arms and became leader of the Umkhontoat ANC guerilla movement.
On August 5, Mandela was arrested and imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Madiba was recaptured and was sentenced to life imprisonment. At this time he was 46-year-old and was sent to Robben Island prison. He spent 18 years of his imprisonment over there before being moved.
Mandela’s friend Oliver Tambo launched an international campaign to get Mandela released.
1990 – 1991
On February 1, Mandela was finally freed from prison after 27 years and in 1991 he became the president of the ANC.
Mandela’s wife Winnie was convicted of kidnapping and as an accessory to assault. The couple separated and got divorced in 1993. Mandela later married Graca Machel in 1998 on his 80th birthday.
Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
This year was historic. The first ever election in which blacks can vote were held on April 26. The ANC won the election with 252 seats out of 400 and Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa in May of 1994.
Mandela handed over the Presidency of South Africa to Thabo Mbeki.
Nelson Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.
At the age 85, Mandela announced retirement from his official life.
The United Nations General Assembly declared July 18 'Mandela Day' as a tribute to his contribution to world freedom.
The 94-year-old revolutionary was admitted to hospital in the March of 2013 with a recurrence of a lung infection. He has been hospitalized four times since December 2012, mostly for his unsuitable pulmonary condition. Madiba has a history of lung problems dating back to his time at the Robben Island prison camp.
Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to many and he will always and forever remain a towering symbol in the eyes of the entire world.