How well do you know Nelson Mandela?

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What was Nelson Mandela's involvement in the Defiance Campaign?

What was the name of the armed wing of the ANC co-founded by Mandela?

What was the purpose of MK's acts of sabotage?

What was the condition for Mandela's release from prison in 1985?

What did Mandela do during his time in prison to try to build mutual respect with the white prison wardens?

What was the Groot Schuur Minute?

What was the Concerned South Africans Group (COSAG)?

What was the focus of Mandela's government as president of South Africa?

What was the legacy of Nelson Mandela?


Nelson Mandela: Life and Revolutionary Activity

  • Nelson Mandela was the first black head of state of South Africa, serving as the country's president from 1994 to 1999.

  • Mandela was born into the Thembu royal family in the village of Mvezo, South Africa, in 1918.

  • He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand before becoming involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics.

  • Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943 and co-founded its Youth League in 1944.

  • He was appointed president of the ANC's Transvaal branch and became prominent for his involvement in the Defiance Campaign and the Congress of the People.

  • Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years after being found guilty of conspiring to overthrow the state.

  • He was released in 1990 amid growing international pressure and fears of racial civil war.

  • Mandela led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, resulting in the 1994 multiracial general election in which he led the ANC to victory and became president.

  • His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by fostering racial reconciliation and creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

  • Mandela received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize, and is held in deep respect within South Africa.

  • He passed away in 2013, leaving behind a legacy as an icon of democracy and social justice.

  • Mandela's life was heavily influenced by traditional Xhosa culture, his Christian faith, and his exposure to Marxist and African nationalist ideologies.The Life of Nelson Mandela: From Early Activism to Armed Resistance

  • Mandela succeeded Walter Sisulu as ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary in 1947, and supported expelling communists from the ANCYL, believing their ideology to be un-African.

  • In 1950, Mandela became national president of the ANCYL and opposed the multi-racial Defend Free Speech Convention, which called for a May Day general strike in protest against apartheid and white minority rule.

  • Mandela rejected Africanism and embraced the idea of a multi-racial front against apartheid. He began reading literature by Marx, Lenin, and Mao, eventually embracing the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism.

  • In 1952, the ANC began preparation for a joint Defiance Campaign against apartheid with Indian and communist groups, founding a National Voluntary Board to recruit volunteers.

  • Mandela addressed an assembled crowd of 10,000 people at a Durban rally on 22 June 1952, initiating the campaign protests for which he was arrested and briefly interned in Marshall Square prison.

  • In May 1954, authorities banned Transvaal ANC president J. B. Marks from making public appearances; unable to maintain his position, he recommended Mandela as his successor. Mandela was elected to be regional president in October.

  • In December 1956, Mandela was arrested alongside most of the ANC national executive, and accused of "high treason" against the state. The formal Treason Trial began in Pretoria in August 1958.

  • In 1961, Mandela, Sisulu, and Slovo co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation", abbreviated MK), the ANC's armed wing, after the Sharpeville massacre.

  • Mandela gained ideas from literature on guerrilla warfare by Marxist militants Mao and Che Guevara as well as from the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz.

  • Operating through a cell structure, MK planned to carry out acts of sabotage that would exert maximum pressure on the government with minimum casualties.

  • Soon after ANC leader Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, MK publicly announced its existence with 57 bombings on Dingane's Day (16 December) 1961, followed by further attacks on New Year's Eve.

  • The ANC decided to send Mandela as a delegate to the February 1962 meeting of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Leaving South Africa in secret via Swaziland, Mandela met with numerous African leaders, gaining financial and military support for MK.

  • Returning to South Africa in July 1962, Mandela was arrested in Natal and charged with inciting workers' strikes and leaving the country without permission. He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, serving time on Robben Island.The Life of Nelson Mandela: Imprisonment

  • Mandela was arrested in 1962 and jailed in Johannesburg's Marshall Square prison for inciting workers' strikes and leaving the country without permission.

  • He was moved to Pretoria and found guilty, receiving a five-year sentence, but the prosecution filed new charges and he and his comrades were charged with sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government.

  • The Rivonia Trial gained international attention and Mandela gave his famous "I Am Prepared to Die" speech, which was widely reported in the press despite official censorship.

  • Mandela and two co-accused were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 on Robben Island, where he was isolated from non-political prisoners and spent his days breaking rocks into gravel.

  • Mandela corresponded with anti-apartheid activists and studied Islam and Afrikaans, hoping to build mutual respect with the white prison wardens and convert them to his cause.

  • He was permitted to attend Christian Sunday services and had official visitors, including liberal parliamentary representative Helen Suzman.

  • Prison conditions improved over time and he was eventually allowed greater numbers of visits and letters, being appointed patron of the multi-racial United Democratic Front (UDF).

  • In 1985, Mandela was offered release from prison if he unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon, but he spurned the offer.

  • He underwent surgery and was given new solitary quarters on the ground floor in 1985, and secretly met with Minister of Justice Kobie Coetsee in 1987, having a further 11 meetings over the next three years.

  • Coetsee organised negotiations between Mandela and a team of four government figures starting in May 1988, but Mandela rejected the conditions, insisting that the ANC would end its armed activities only when the government renounced violence.

  • Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison in 1988 and was housed in relative comfort with a personal cook, using the time to complete his LLB degree and organise secret communications with exiled ANC leader Oliver Tambo.

  • F. W. de Klerk became state president in 1989 and invited Mandela to a meeting over tea, before legalising all formerly banned political parties in February 1990 and announcing Mandela's unconditional release.

  • Mandela left Victor Verster Prison on 11 February 1990, holding Winnie's hand in front of amassed crowds and the press, and gave a speech declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the white minority.Nelson Mandela's Journey to the End of Apartheid

  • Mandela went on an African tour, meeting supporters and politicians in various countries, including Sweden, London, France, the Vatican, and the United States.

  • He encouraged foreign countries to support sanctions against the apartheid government.

  • In May 1990, Mandela led a multiracial ANC delegation into preliminary negotiations with a government delegation of 11 Afrikaner men, which led to the Groot Schuur Minute.

  • In August, Mandela offered a ceasefire, the Pretoria Minute, for which he was criticized by MK activists.

  • Mandela spent much time trying to unify and build the ANC, appearing at a Johannesburg conference in December attended by 1,600 delegates.

  • At the ANC's July 1991 national conference in Durban, Mandela admitted that the party had faults and announced his aim to build a "strong and well-oiled task force" for securing majority rule.

  • Mandela was given an office in the newly purchased ANC headquarters at Shell House, Johannesburg, and moved into Winnie's large Soweto home.

  • In June 1991, Winnie was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison, reduced to two on appeal.

  • On 13 April 1992, Mandela publicly announced his separation from Winnie.

  • Following the Boipatong massacre, Mandela called off the negotiations, before attending a meeting of the Organisation of African Unity in Senegal.

  • The democratic process was threatened by the Concerned South Africans Group (COSAG), an alliance of black ethnic-secessionist groups like Inkatha and far-right Afrikaner parties.

  • Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's first black chief executive on 10 May 1994, and his presidency was dominated by the ANC, which had no experience of governing by itself.


Do you know all there is to know about South African revolutionary icon, Nelson Mandela? Test your knowledge with our quiz on his life and activism. From his early involvement in anti-colonial politics to his 27-year imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state, and ultimately his journey to becoming the first black head of state of South Africa, this quiz will put your understanding of Mandela's legacy to the test. So, put on your thinking cap and take on the challenge!

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