UPDATED: 6:00 a.m. July 18, 2021:
Sunday marked Nelson Mandela‘s birthday, a holiday also known worldwide as Nelson Mandela Day and meant to celebrate all-things “Madiba,” one of several nicknames bestowed upon the anti-apartheid icon who has been described as the “father” of the South African nation,
Mandela would have turned 103 years old this year. Sadly, the former political prisoner and South Africa’s first Black president died in 2013 after being hospitalized with a lung infection.
Mandela, who was 95 years old at the time of his death, remains among the most famous and well-respected political activists of all time. After serving 27 years in prison, he became South Africa’s democratically elected president in 1994.
Below is a complete timeline outlining some of the key events in Nelson Mandela’s legendary life.
July 18, 1918: Nelson Mandela was 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.