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frontline: the long walk of nelson mandela


mandela speaking with codefendents outside the

1912 The African National Congress (ANC) is founded; its goal is to end white domination and create a multi-racial South Africa.
July 18, 1918 Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela is born in a small village in the Transkei province in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. (see map) The Madiba, his tribal clan, is part of the Thembu people. His family has royal connections; his great-grandfather was a Thembu king and Mandela's father is a respected counselor to the Thembu royal family. His father has four wives and Mandela is one of thirteen children. The family lives in a traditional thatched hut and raises livestock. On his first day of school, Rolihlahla is given the English name Nelson by an African teacher.
1927 Mandela's father dies, and at the age of nine Mandela becomes the ward of the acting regent of the Thembu people, chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo. He is raised lovingly, but with discipline, by the chief and his wife in the Thembu royal household.
1939-1940 After receiving a good education at local boarding schools, Mandela enters Fort Hare University and completes two years before deciding to leave for Johannesburg to avoid a marriage arranged for him by his guardian, chief Jongintaba.
1941-43 Mandela meets Walter Sisulu, who becomes a mentor and lifelong friend. Sisulu introduces Mandela to the law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman, where he obtains a position. Mandela earns his B.A. degree, enrolls in law school and joins the ANC.
1944 Believing that the ANC leadership is too staid, Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu form the ANC Youth League. They plan to organize mass support for the ANC and make it a more activist organization.

Mandela marries Evelyn Mase, a nursing student living in Johannesburg, who grew up in Mandela's home province.

1948 The National Party comes to power under Dr. Daniel Malan. His platform is called apartheid, meaning "apartness." They implement new laws supporting racial discrimination and oppression including the Separate Representation of Voters Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act.
1949 In response to the new apartheid policies, the ANC Youth League drafts a Program of Action calling for mass strikes, boycotts, protests and passive resistance.
1950 The National Party passes the Suppression of Communism Act, the Population and Registration Act, and the Group Areas act, which strictly enforce apartheid policies and are intended to crush any mass movement.
1951 Mandela becomes national president of the ANC Youth League.
June 1952 After Malan rejects the ANC's calls for legitimate rights for blacks, the ANC launches the Defiance Campaign, a nonviolent mass resistance. Mandela is its volunteer-in-chief. In the next five months, over 8,500 take part in the campaign.
July 1952 Mandela is arrested and charged for violating the Suppression of Communism Act. He and other ANC members are found guilty, but the sentence of nine months imprisonment is suspended for two years.
September 1952 Mandela is banned from attending meetings or gatherings for the next two years. These bans continue on and off for the next nine years.
December 1952 Mandela and Oliver Tambo open a law office in downtown Johannesburg and take on a heavy load of cases involving blacks persecuted under the new apartheid laws.

At the annual ANC conference, Mandela becomes its deputy president. He draws up a plan for the ANC to work underground--the M-Plan.

June 1955 The ANC creates the Congress of the People, representing members of all races, to develop a set of principles for a new South Africa. They also establish the Freedom Charter, which supports the abolition of racial discrimination and oppression.
December 1956 Mandela is arrested along with over 150 other people and tried for high treason. The "Treason Trial" takes up most of Mandela's time over the next few years.
1957 Mandela divorces Evelyn; their three children stay with her.
June 1958 Mandela marries Winnie Madikizela, a social worker from Bizana in Pondoland. Winnie takes on a more politically active role while Mandela is tied down by his trials. Over the next few years, two daughters are born, Zenani and Zindzi.
September 1958 Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd becomes prime minister and strictly enforces apartheid policies. As former minister of native affairs, Verwoerd had been responsible for much of the apartheid legislation.
1959 Parliament passes the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act, which forces the resettlement of blacks into eight separate "tribal homelands." The ANC vigorously opposes the act. However, some tribal leaders adopt the Bantu policy and work with the government.
April 1959 A former ANC Youth League member, Robert Sobukwe, launches the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), a new political group that opposes including whites and Indians in the anti-apartheid struggle.
March 21, 1960 Sharpeville: Anti-apartheid protesters gather to challenge South Africa's pass laws that prescribe where blacks can go. The police open fire and 69 people die--most of them from bullet wounds in the back.

The government declares a State of Emergency and bans the ANC and other opposition groups. Mandela is arrested. Oliver Tambo leaves the country under orders to work for the ANC cause from exile.

March 1961 Mandela and the other defendants in the Treason Trial are found not guilty. It is a big victory for the ANC.
1961 The ANC responds to government's banning by endorsing an "armed struggle." Mandela goes underground and launches the armed struggle by forming Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation)--or MK. MK's policy is to target only government offices and symbols of apartheid, not people.

Mandela escapes the country and travels in Africa and Europe, studying guerrilla warfare and building support for the ANC.

August 1962 Returning to South Africa, Mandela is arrested, convicted and sentenced to five years. He is held on Robben Island.
October 1963-1964 Although already serving a sentence, Mandela is brought to trial again along with other ANC leaders, and charged with sabotage and attempting to violently overthrow the government. Known as the Rivonia Trial, the accused escape execution, but the judge sentences them to life in prison. In the winter of 1964, Mandela and his comrades are sent to Robben Island (see map).
1966 Verwoerd is assassinated by a deranged white farmer; John Vorster succeeds him as prime minister.
1968-69 Within a one-year period, Mandela's mother dies and his oldest son is killed in a car crash. Mandela is not allowed to attend the funerals.
1976 Soweto students protest mandatory instruction in Afrikaans, the language of the white rulers. Protests spread throughout Soweto. In crushing it, the government kills 575 people over an eight month period, a fourth of them under age 18.
1977 Winnie is banished to Brandfort, a remote township. Her daughter Zindzi goes with her. Over the following years, Winnie will spend over a year in jail (including solitary confinement) and face constant police harassment and humiliation. In response, she becomes more aggressive and militant in opposing white rule.
1978 Vorster resigns; P.W. Botha, who held various political appointments in the National Party, takes over as prime minister.
1980 In exile, Oliver Tambo and the ANC launch the "Release Mandela" campaign. In the following years, numerous countries and international groups sign petitions, pass resolutions and hold rallies for Mandela's release.
March 1982 After 18 years on Robben Island, Mandela is transferred to Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland.
1983-1984 Angered by rent increases and Botha's plan for giving Indian and mixed-race voters--but not blacks--token places in Parliament, black residents of townships south of Johannesburg start an insurrection that spreads across the country. The police respond brutally. In one township, Langa, 20 people are fatally shot at a funeral procession.

The resistance escalates. Township operatives organize strikes and boycotts to make black townships "ungovernable." MK guerrillas begin killing farmers, policemen and accused collaborators.

1985 In January, United States Senator Edward Kennedy visits South Africa to show his anti-apartheid support. He is hosted by Bishop Desmond Tutu the recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize; Kennedy also visits Winnie Mandela.

South Africa's church leaders take up the anti-apartheid cause, led by Bishop Tutu.

During the summer, anti-apartheid rallies and protests take place in New York City, Atlanta and Washington.

World famous musicians, including Bruce Springsteen and Miles Davis, release the anti-apartheid disk "Sun City.' The song "Free Nelson Mandela" reaches the Top Ten on rock-music charts in England.

Botha offers to free Mandela if he will renounce violence. Mandela's daughter Zindzi reads his response rejecting the deal to a packed stadium near Johannesburg.

In November, Minster of Justice Kobie Coetsee makes an unexpected visit to Mandela who is hospitalized for prostate surgery. Although a social visit, it marks a turning point. On Mandela's return to prison, he is put in a separate cell from his comrades so the government can have private access to him.

April 1986 Winnie's increasingly controversial and militant activities culminate in a speech at a funeral in which she endorses "necklace murders'--the death by burning tires around the necks of those who collaborate with the government. Her speech is widely reported in the foreign press as a call to violence; it is privately denounced by the ANC.
June 1986 The government declares a State of Emergency in response to widespread unrest in the black townships.
July 1986 Secret talks, approved by Botha and led by Coetsee begin between Mandela and the government. Mandela makes the decision without consulting other leaders of the ANC organization.
August 1986 A few months after the Reagan administration reassess its policy on South Africa, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes overwhelmingly for strict economic sanctions against South Africa. Over the next few years, major U.S. companies start closing down operations (some only partially) in the country and U.S. banks stop loaning money.
1987 As talks with the government continue in earnest, Mandela tells his ANC comrades such as Govan Mbeki and Ahmed Kathrada about the negotiations. Their reactions range from outrage to strong support. Rumors start within the ANC that Mandela has "sold out."
June 1988 On the 24th anniversary of Mandela's imprisonment, a rock concert called "Freedomfest - Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Celebration" is held outside London and televised in 60 countries.
December 1988 After being treated for tuberculosis, Mandela is transferred to Victor Verster Prison. He is housed in an isolated cottage with a pool, a chef (Jack Swart), and gardens. His meetings with the government continue.

The same month, four young males, including 13-year-old Stompie Seipei, are abducted by members of the Mandela United Football Club (a group of young men acting as Winnie Mandela's bodyguards) and beaten inside Winnie's home. The other youths escape, but Stompie disappears. His battered body is found weeks later; Winnie is eventually implicated in the whole affair.

July 5, 1989 After numerous delays, Mandela and Botha meet for tea at the president's residence. The meeting is cordial and Mandela presses for the release of Walter Sisulu from prison.
August 1989 Botha resigns and F.W. de Klerk is sworn in as acting president. Mandela is encouraged when de Klerk releases most of the Rivonia Trial prisoners, including Sisulu, and begins to dismantle the apartheid structure. He abandons the long-term master plan of congregating blacks into separate homelands, and accepts the principle of "power sharing" with them. De Klerk recognizes that apartheid is not working. Despite millions of arrests for violations of the pass laws, blacks continue to migrate into banned areas.
December 13, 1989 Mandela and de Klerk have the first of three initial meetings.
February 2, 1990 In a dramatic speech to Parliament, de Klerk announces the lifting of the bans against the ANC and other political organizations.
February 11, 1990 After 27 years of imprisonment, Mandela is released. His new life is busy, visiting old friends and supporters, becoming deputy president of the ANC, and traveling with Winnie to the U.S., Europe and North Africa. In Sweden, he visits his old friend Oliver Tambo.
May 1990 The ANC and the National Party begin negotiations on forming a new multi-racial democracy for South Africa. These talks will be off and on for months, with delays due to the ANC's anger over the violence in the black townships. Mandela and de Klerk continue to hold private meetings.
July 14, 1990 Inkatha Freedom Party, a Zulu group led by Chief Buthelezi, is launched as a political party. They are odds with the ANC, particularly over the armed struggle. Although Mandela reaches out to Buthelezi to resolve their differences, the Inkatha targets ANC strongholds in the Natal province and widespread violence escalates, with support from the white police force.
August 6, 1990 The ANC and the government sign the Pretoria Minute, in which both parties agreed to end the armed struggle.

Mandela presses de Klerk to investigate police brutality and government support of the violence in the Natal province. Their relationship is strained over the issue of violence.

February 1991 Winnie's trial starts for the kidnapping and assault of four youths by the Mandela United Football Club. Throughout the years of the controversy Mandela stood by his wife; he attends the trial. She is found guilty of kidnapping, but not assault, and sentenced to six years in prison. In her appeal, she is given a suspended sentenced and fined.
July 1991 For the first time, the ANC holds its annual conference in South Africa. Mandela is elected ANC president.
December 20, 1991 The first formal negotiations with the government take place at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA 1). Mandela lashes out at de Klerk in a speech, after de Klerk berated the ANC in an earlier speech. They don't meet again for five months.
April 13, 1992 Mandela announces his separation from Winnie. She resigns as head of Social Welfare for the ANC, but not from the National Executive Committee.

Violence continues in townships with frequent clashes between police and residents. Mandela is outraged and says the police are supporting the violence rather than stopping it. Mandela holds de Klerk responsible; de Klerk is adamant that he does not have the power to control the violence.

May 1992 Another round of talks are held at CODESA 2 to construct a plan for a future democracy. The talks end in stalemate, but both sides agree to continue to work towards a solution.
June-September 1992 Frustrated over the unsuccessful negotiations, the ANC decides on a policy of "rolling mass action" consisting of strikes, protests and boycotts, to show the government the support the ANC has across the country. Meanwhile, the violence continues with an Inkatha raid on ANC members that leaves 46 dead in Boipatong township.

The rolling mass action culminates in a general strike protesting the violence.

September 1992 The increasing death toll forces Mandela and de Klerk to restart negotiations. They sign the Record of Understanding, which promises to establish formal investigations into the violence and police actions. It also establishes an elected constitutional assembly that will develop a new constitution for the country.
April 10, 1993 Chris Hani, a popular young ANC leader, is killed by a white extremist. Mandela appears on television calling for restraint and successfully heads off violence.
December 1993 Mandela and de Klerk are jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
April 26-29, 1994 For the first time in South Africa's history all races vote in democratic elections. Mandela is elected president and the ANC wins 252 of the 400 seats in the national assembly.
May 10, 1994 Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as president of South Africa, with his daughter Zenani beside him; de Klerk is sworn in as deputy president.
March 1996 Mandela divorces Winnie; to the end, she tried to prevent the divorce.
July 18, 1998 On his 80th birthday Mandela weds Graca Machel, the widow of a former president of Mozambique.
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