July 18, 1918: Born in the village of Mvezo in South Africa’s southeastern Transkei region.
1925: Begins school near the village of Qunu, where he is given the name Nelson by a teacher who insists all pupils have a Christian name.
1939: Enrolls for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare in the eastern town of Alice.
1940: Expelled from Fort Hare for joining a protest boycott.
1941: Moves to Johannesburg to escape an arranged marriage. Works briefly as a night watchman at a mine. Starts work as trainee lawyer at law firm Witkin, Sidelsky & Eidelman.
1942: Completes a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of South Africa.
1943: Joins the African National Congress, or ANC; enrolls for a law degree at the University of Witwatersrand.
1944: Co-founds the ANC Youth League. Marries Evelyn Mase, with whom he has four children.
1951: Elected president of the ANC Youth League.
1952: Arrested for violating laws aimed at suppressing communism and is sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labor, suspended for two years. Opens South Africa’s first black law firm with Oliver Tambo. Elected ANC deputy president.
1956: Arrested and charged with treason, along with 155 others. All are acquitted.
1958: Divorces Evelyn Mase and marries Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela, with whom he has two daughters.
1960: Detained following the banning of the ANC and the imposition of a state of emergency.
1961: Goes underground, helps co-found the ANC’s military wing and is appointed its commander-in-chief.
1962: Leaves the country for military training and is arrested upon his return.
1963: Convicted of incitement and leaving the country illegally. Sentenced to five years imprisonment. Later also charged with sabotage.
1964: Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Sent to Robben Island prison off the coast of Cape Town.
1982: Transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town. Rejects then-President P.W. Botha’s offer to free him if he renounces violence. Undergoes prostate surgery.
1988: Contracts tuberculosis. Transferred to Victor Verster prison, outside Cape Town.
Feb. 11, 1990: Released from prison, following a 27-year incarceration.
1990: Elected ANC deputy president.
1991: Elected ANC president.
1993: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with then-President F.W. de Klerk.
April 27, 1994: Votes for the first time in his life in South Africa’s first democratic election.
May 10, 1994: Inaugurated as president.
1996: Divorces Winnie Mandela.
1998: Marries Graca Machel on his 80th birthday.
1999: Steps down after one term as president.
2001: Diagnosed with prostate cancer.
2002: Begins global campaign to fight AIDS.
2004: Announces he will be stepping down from public life.
2005: Reveals that his eldest son, Makgatho, died of an AIDS-related illness.
2008: Celebrates his 90th birthday.
2010: Makes rare public appearance at the final of the soccer World Cup, which is staged in Africa for the first time.
2011: Admitted to hospital following acute respiratory infection, and is discharged after a two-night stay.
February 2012: Undergoes exploratory surgery for an abdominal complaint.
December 2012: Admitted to Pretoria hospital to undergo treatment for a lung infection and have gallstones removed, and is discharged after 19 days.
March 2013: Readmitted to hospital for treatment for pneumonia and is discharged after 10 days.
June 8, 2013: Returns to hospital to receive treatment for recurring lung infection.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at email@example.com