A life rich in drama, tragedy, triumph and reconciliation.Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest.He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962 but also did not complete that degree.In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo , Transkei, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni.He became President of South Africa in 1994, and retired in 1999. Nelson Mandela died on 5 December 2013 following a lung illness. Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the radical left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid's supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours including the Nobel Peace Prize and became the subject of a cult of personality. Mandela was married three times and had six children. He wed his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, in 1944. The couple had four children together: Madiba Thembekile (d. 1964), Makgatho (d. 2005), Makaziwe (d. 1948 at nine months old) and Maki. The couple divorced in 1957. In 1958, Mandela wed Winnie Madikizela; the couple had two daughters together, Zenani (now Argentina's South African ambassador) and Zindziswa (the South African ambassador to Denmark), before splitting in 1996. Two years later, in 1998, Mandela married Graca Machel, the first Education Minister of Mozambique, with whom he remained until his death in 2013.

Nelson Mandela with his wife Winnie and daughter Zindzi, in 1961.Marriage is so tough. Nelson Mandela got a divorce! Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in a South Africa prison  getting beaten and tortured every day for twenty-seven years.

December 5, 1956: South African authorities were sentenced Nelson Mandela  and along with 155 others who called for a nonracial state to life in prison. ANC leaders and their allies, were arrested in a nationwide crackdown and charged with trying to overthrow the state .Their treason trial lasted four years, but all were acquitted after Mandela convinced the court that nonviolence was a core principle of his organization.

Apartheid began in 1948, the policy of the newly elected National Party chosen by white voters on a promise to intensify segregation and violently suppress black political expression. But even as that put the minority regime on a collision course with the black majority, it was a time of social and political ferment and possibility in which the tall, handsome, educated Thembu princeling discovered his romantic self.In 1944 he had met his first wife, Evelyn Mase, a cousin of African National Congress stalwart Walter Sisulu, at the Sisulus’ home. Walter Sisulu, who died in 2003, had been a political mentor to the young Mandela, and served alongside him throughout his political career, including 26 years in prison. His wife, Albertina Sisulu, was a leader of the movement that re-emerged while her husband was in prison.Mandela described Mase as “a quiet, pretty girl from the countryside who did not seem overawed by the coming and goings at the Sisulus.” She was training as a nurse with Albertina at the Johannesburg non-European General Hospital. The couple married in 1944 at the Native Commissioners Court, after which they lived in Soweto and had four children before their divorce 14 years later, in 1958.In 1964, Nelson Mandela jailed for life.The leader of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, has been jailed for life for sabotage.Seven other defendants, including the former secretary-general of the banned African National Congress (ANC), Walter Sisulu, were also given life prison sentences.Crowds gathered silently outside the court building in Pretoria's Church Square waiting for the verdict to be handed down. Hundreds of police patrolled the area.The Rivonia trial - named after the suburb of Johannesburg where several of the defendants were arrested - began eight months ago, with Mandela, 46, and his co-defendants proudly confessing their guilt to plotting to destroy the South African state by sabotage.As members of the ANC - the main African nationalist movement - they have campaigned for an end to the oppression of black South Africans.

Nelson Mandela's Speech, made on the stairs of the Cape Town City Hall, 11 Febuary 1990 opposite the Grand Parade and a stones throw from the Castle. This was the official day of his release from prison in which he traveled to Cape Town and made his freedom speech on the steps of the Cape Town City Hall.

1990,Nelson Mandela was released unconditionally from prison after 27 years. Accompanied by his then-wife Winnie, he left the Victor Verster prison (later renamed Drakenstein Correctional Centre) on the outskirts of Paarl and was driven the 60 kms to Cape Town by African National Congress'(ANC) Rose Sonto along a route lined by thousands of supporters.

Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president on 10 May 1994. Watched by millions, he declared: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”In line with the spirit of reconciliation, de Klerk was not removed from power but instead moved down to become second deputy president. Mandela would often allow him to chair cabinet meetings.Mandela saw his main task as nation-building and reconciliation. He was not interested in administration or running the government, delegating that to Thabo Mbeki, his first deputy. Mandela also embarked on a series of confidence building measures aimed at the white minority.Mandela also travelled the world, emphatically ending South Africa’s era of isolation. The Queen Elizabeth II paid a State Visit to South Africa in 1995 and Mandela returned the compliment by paying a highly successful visit to Britain in 1996.Mandela always made clear that he would serve only one term. In 1997, he handed over the ANC leadership to Thabo Mbeki and left the task of running the government to him. He retired at the 1999 election, shortly before his 81st birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II with South African President Nelson Mandela during an official state banquet in Cape 9 July 1996.Nelson Mandela regarded the British Parliament as 'the most democratic institution in the world'.

Nelson Mandela celebrateas his 86th birthday with his wife Graca Machel and his ex wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The party was thrown by Mandela's grandchildren. The family was re-united after Winnie was enstranged from Nelson Mandela for many years.

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