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Key dates in the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela:
- July 18, 1918: Born into Thembu royal family in Mvezo village in southeastern South Africa.
- 1940: Expelled from Fort Hare University College for participating in a student strike.
- 1941: Moves to Johannesburg, becomes policeman at a mine.
- 1944: Officially joins the African National Congress (ANC).
- 1944: Marries Evelyn Mase, a trainee nurse.
- 1948: National Party takes power in South Africa with its policy of racial segregation known as apartheid
- 1952: Opens the first black law practice in Johannesburg with Oliver Tambo.
- December 5, 1956: Is among 156 political activists arrested and charged with treason.
- 1958: Marries social worker Nomzamo Zaniewe Winifred "Winnie" Madikizela after divorcing his first wife.
- March 21, 1960: Security forces massacre 67 protesters in Sharpeville. The government bans ANC and Pan African Congress and declares state of emergency.
- 1961: Acquitted in treason trial along with co-accused.
- December 16, 1961: Launch of ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), with Mandela as commander in chief.
- August 5, 1962: Captured and sentenced on November 7 to five years in prison for inciting a strike and leaving the country illegally.
- 1963: While serving this sentence, is charged with sabotage along with other ANC activists arrested in Rivonia near Johannesburg.
- June 12, 1964: After famous speech from the dock (democracy "is an ideal for which I am prepared to die"), is sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island prison off Cape Town.
- August 12, 1988: Diagnosed with tuberculosis.
- July 5, 1989: Meets president PW Botha and then on December 13 with FW de Klerk, who later becomes Botha's successor.
- February 11, 1990: Released from prison.
- July 5, 1991: Elected ANC president.
- April, 1992: Separates from his wife Winnie.
- October 15, 1993: Wins Nobel Peace Prize with De Klerk.
- April 27, 1994: Votes for the first time in his life in the country's first all-race elections.
- May 10, 1994: Inaugurated as South Africa's first black president.
- December 14, 1994: Launches his biography "Long Walk to Freedom".
- June 24, 1995: Dons the Springboks rugby jersey to congratulate the mainly white team's victory in the Rugby World Cup.
- August 15, 1995: Has tea with the widow of apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd.
- 1996: Divorces Winnie Mandela.
- July 18, 1998: Marries Graca Machel, widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel.
- 1999: Steps down as president after one term.
- 2001: Diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- June 1, 2004: Announces his retirement from public life.
- January 6, 2005: Announces that his son Makgatho had died of AIDS.
- April 19, 2009: Makes his final political address in a recorded message at an ANC election rally.
- November 2009: The United Nations declares July 18 as "Nelson Mandela International Day", the date of his birthday when acts of goodwill are encouraged.
- July 11, 2010: Appears at the closing ceremony of the Football World Cup in South Africa.
- January 28, 2011: Discharged from hospital after two days of treatment for an acute respiratory infection.
- May 23, 2011: Moves to his village home in Qunu.
- December 8, 2012: Admitted to hospital in Pretoria to be treated for a lung infection and gall stones.
- December 26, 2012: Mandela is discharged from hospital but he continues to receive care at his home in Johannesburg.
- March 9, 2013: Admitted overnight to a Pretoria hospital for a "scheduled medical check-up". Discharged the following day after "successful" tests.
- March 27, 2013: Mandela is readmitted to hospital with pneumonia. Discharged but still receiving medical care at his Johannesburg home after 10 days in hospital in which a build-up of fluid was drained from his chest.
- June 8, 2013: The 94-year-old returns to hospital with a new lung infection and is described as being serious but stable.
- President Jacob Zuma says Mandela remains in a "critical condition".