July 18, 1918 – Born to Hendry Mphakanyiswa, a Thembu chief, and Nosekeni Qunu in the Umtata district of the Transkei.
1940 – Expelled from University of Fort Hare for role in a student strike.
1942 – Joins African National Congress, South Africa’s main campaigner for black equality.
1943 – Receives B.A. from Fort Hare after completing correspondence courses through University of South Africa.
June 4, 1948 – National Party is elected to power and begins installing apartheid, a system of complete racial segregation.
1952 – Mandela leads the Defiance Campaign, encouraging people to break racial separation laws. Convicted under Suppression of Communism Act, banned from attending gatherings and leaving Johannesburg. Passes exam to qualify as an attorney and, with Tambo, forms the first black law partnership in the country.
1958 – Marries social worker Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela after divorcing Evelyn Mase, his first wife.
April 20, 1964 – At a time when many African colonies have become independent and Mandela is on trial for sabotage, he declares from the dock that he is “prepared to die” for a democratic South Africa.
June 12, 1964 – Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island to serve sentence.
1973 – Refuses a government offer of release.
Feb. 10, 1985 – Another release offer, on condition he renounce violence. In fiery refusal, read by his daughter Zindzi at a rally, Mandela says burden is on the government to renounce violence, end apartheid and negotiate.
July 5, 1989 – Meets President P.W. Botha.
Dec. 13, 1989 – Meets Botha’s successor, F.W. de Klerk.
Feb. 2, 1990 – At the opening of Parliament, de Klerk announces the legalization of all political organizations, including the African National Congress.
Feb. 10, 1990 – De Klerk announces Mandela will be released the next day.
Feb. 11, 1990 – Mandela walks out of prison to cheering crowds.
Oct. 15, 1993 – Mandela and de Klerk share Nobel Peace Prize.
May 10, 1994 – Mandela inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president after ANC wins South Africa’s first all-race election.
March 19, 1996 – Mandela granted a divorce from Winnie.
July 18, 1998 – Mandela weds former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel.
June 16, 1999 – Mandela retires after one term.
June 1, 2004 – Announces retirement from public life.
July 11, 2010 – Mandela waves to the crowd at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg as South Africa bids farewell to the 2010 soccer World Cup.
June 21, 2011 – Mandela meets at his home with Michelle Obama, her two daughters and other Obama relatives.
December 2012 – Mandela spends nearly three weeks in a hospital.
April 29, 2013 – State television broadcasts footage of a visit by President Jacob Zuma to Mandela at his Johannesburg home. The footage – the first public images of Mandela in nearly a year – showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Zuma tried to hold his hand.
June 8, 2013 – The government says Mandela is admitted to a hospital with a recurring lung infection. Officials describe his condition as serious but stable.
Dec. 5, 2013 – Mandela dies at age 95.