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Mandela in video

Mandela: from terrorist to global statesman

Once regarded as a terrorist, Nelson Mandela became an icon for peace. He spearheaded the push to end Apartheid in South Africa, even during the 27 years he spent behind bars. He, together with South African president FW de Klerk, oversaw the abolition of legal racial segregation in the country, earning both the Nobel Peace prize.

In 1994 the man known to his followers as ‘Madiba’, his Xhosa clan name, became the first president of a post-apartheid South Africa. One of, if not THE most respected statesman of his generation, his death at the age of 95 has prompted tributes from around the world.

Nelson Mandela by our cartoonist Etienne Barthomeuf

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Mandela timeline

  • 1918, July 18 : Born Rolihlahla Mandela in Mvezo village, Eastern Cape
  • 1925: Mandela’s primary school teacher gives him the Anglicised name ‘Nelson’
  • 1941: Arrives in Johannesburg after fleeing an arranged marriage
  • 1942: Begins to attend African National Congress (ANC) meetings
  • 1951: Elected president of the ANC Youth League
  • 1952: Arrested for “statutory communism” for his political activities, receives a suspended prison and hard labour sentence
  • 1956: Arrested again for treason but later acquitted
  • 1960: The ANC is banned weeks after the Sharpeville massacre
  • 1961: Mandela co-founds Umkhonto weSizwe (MK)
  • 1962: After returning from military training in Ethiopia, Mandela is arrested for leaving the country illegally and inciting workers to strike; he is sentenced to five years in prison
  • 1963: Charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government
  • 1964: Convicted to life imprisonment
  • 1985: Rejects president Botha’s offer of freedom in return for renouncing violence
  • 1990, February 2: President FW de Klerk reverses the ban on the ANC
  • 1990, February 11: Mandela released from Robben Island prison
  • 1993: Awarded Nobel Peace prize along with FW de Klerk
  • 1994, May 10: Inaugurated as President of the Republic of South Africa
  • 1999: Steps down after his first term as president