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UPDATED: 8:40 a.m. Feb. 11, 2021:

When Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon who has been described as the “father” of the South African nation, died in 2013 after being hospitalized with a lung infection, the world turned its attention to the 95-year-old former political prisoner.

Mandela is among the most famous and well-respected political activists of all time, and after serving 27 years in prison, he became South Africa’s democratically elected president in 1994.

Below is a Nelson Mandela timeline outlining some of the key events in his life.

RELATED: The Top 10 Nelson Mandela Quotes Of All Time

July 18, 1918: Nelson Mandela born in Transkei, South Africa

1939: Nelson Mandela enrolls in University College of Fort Hare

1940: Nelson Mandela expelled from Fort Hare

1942: Nelson Mandela earns a bachelor’s degree via correspondence through the University of South Africa

1943: Nelson Mandela earns a bachelor’s degree from Fort Hare and begins studying for law degree at University of Witwatersrand

1944: Nelson Mandela marries his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase

1945: Nelson Mandela and Evelyn Mase celebrate the birth of their first child, Thembekile

1951: Nelson Mandela elected president of the African National Congress Youth League, which he’d co-founded in 1944

RELATED: Nelson Mandela: A Father To A Nation

1952: Nelson Mandela convicted of violating the Suppression of Communism Act and sentenced to nine months in prison; founds first black law firm in South Africa’s history

1958: Divorces Evelyn Ntoko Mase and marries Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela, with whom he’ll have two daughters

October 1963: Charged with sabotaging the government

June 12, 1964: Nelson Mandela sentenced to life in prison

1985: Nelson Mandela turns down offer from South African President PW Botha to leave prison early if he rejects violence

Dec. 7, 1988: Nelson Mandela moved from Pollsmoor Prison to Victor Verster Prison, where he’s held in a cottage for 14 months

Feb. 2, 1990: South African government lifts ban on ANC

Feb. 11, 1990: Nelson Mandela released after 27 years in prison

Dec. 10, 1993: Nelson Mandela wins the Nobel Peace Prize

May 9, 1994: Nelson Mandela becomes South Africa’s first democratically elected president

1996: Nelson Mandela divorces Winnie Mandela

July 18, 1998: On his 80th birthday, Nelson Mandela marries Graca Machel, his third wife

1999: Nelson Mandela steps down as South Africa’s president after one term in office

June 1, 2004: Nelson Mandela officially steps down from public life

July 11, 2010: Nelson Mandela appears at the World Cup in Soweto

July 18, 2012: Nelson Mandela marks his 94th birthday in Eastern Cape

June 8, 2013: Nelson Mandela hospitalized with a lung infection, said to be in “very serious” condition

Dec. 5, 2013: Nelson Mandela dies at the age of 95.


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The Top 10 Nelson Mandela Quotes Of All Time

A Timeline Of Nelson Mandela’s Life  was originally published on