Union of South Africa formed, handing power to Afrikaners at the expense of the black majority.
A meeting of chiefs, churchmen and lawyers at the Waaihoek methodist church in Bloemfontein on 8 January heralds the birth of the South African Native National Congress. John Langalibalele Dube is the first president.
Natives Land Act effectively gives 80% of land to white people, who make up less than 20% of the population. It helps secure cheap labour for white-owned mines.
National party founded by Afrikaner nationalists in Bloemfontein.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela born in Mvezo in the Transkei on 18 July.
The SANNC is renamed the African National Congress (ANC).
ANC youth league founded with leaders including Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo.
National party elected and introduces apartheid, a legal system of racial segregation. It will be described by prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd as a "policy of good neighbourliness".
ANC launches defiance campaign. Mandela is arrested.
Freedom Charter adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown. It declares "that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people … The people shall govern!"
Mandela is arrested and joins 155 others on trial for treason. The trial lasts four-and-a-half years.
Africanists who object to the ANC's growing co-operation with white and Indian people break away to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).
Police open fire on an unarmed crowd at a PAC demonstration against pass laws in Sharpeville, killing 69. A state of emergency is declared and the ANC and PAC are banned. The ANC president chief, Albert Luthuli, becomes the first African to win the Nobel peace prize.
ANC launches armed struggle with Mandela as commander-in-chief of its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which means "Spear of the Nation". In 18 months MK carries out 200 acts of sabotage.
Mandela is arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for incitement and leaving the country illegally.
Police raid the secret headquarters of MK at Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia, arresting the leadership.
MK leaders, including Mandela, are sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia trial. Mandela tells the court: "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Verwoerd assassinated in parliament.
Student uprising in Soweto leaves about 600 dead.
Ban lifted on the ANC and Mandela released, on 11 February, after 27 years in prison.
Mandela and FW De Klerk, the last apartheid president, are jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize.
ANC wins South Africa's first democratic elections, making Mandela the country's first black president.
Mandela steps down after one term. ANC wins second democratic election with Thabo Mbeki as president. MP Patricia de Lille presents a dossier containing numerous allegations of bribery relating to a 70bn rand (£5.44bn) arms deal.
Mbeki is criticised for a speech that appears to underplay the threat of HIV. Campaigners will accuse Mbeki of Aids "denialism" that costs hundreds of thousands of lives.
Winnie Mandela convicted of theft and fraud.
Mbeki ousted at Polokwane conference and replaced by Kgalema Motlanthe as caretaker president.
Corruption allegations are dropped against Jacob Zuma. ANC re-elected with Zuma as president.
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