About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Chronology of Documents and Reports

31 May 1902

THE PEACE TREATY OF VEREENIGING ends the Anglo-Boer War that began in 1899. The Treaty is signed between Boer and British leaders.

12 October 1908

The first NATIONAL CONVENTION representing the exclusive interests of whites sits to negotiate South Africa's first constitution.

19 August 1909

THE SOUTH AFRICA ACT, South Africa's first constitution, is passed by the British House of Commons despite petitions and protests from the African majority.

31 May 1910

THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA iS inaugurated. This marks the political disenfranchisement of the African majority.

8 January 1912


December 1928

THE 'NATIVE REPUBLIC': the seeds of the concept of black majority rule are sown with this rallying call by the South African Communist Party (SAC P ).

August 1941

The ATLANTIC CHARTER iS signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. This Charter laid the basis for a bill of rights in South Africa.

16 December 1943

AFRICAN CLAIMS: the ANC's model for a bill of rights fashioned on the Atlantic Charter. (Schedule of Documents, Document 6)

26 June 1955

The Congress of the People adopts the FREEDOM CHARTER. (Schedule of Documents, Document 7)

28 May 1957

ALBERT J. LUTHULI WRITES TO J. G. STRIJDOM, South Africa's Prime Minister, pleading for the establishment of a non-racial convention. (Schedule of Documents, Document 8)

16 December 1960

The CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE OF AFRICAN LEADERS iS held in Orlando, Soweto. This Conference makes a call to all African people to attend an All-In Conference, the purpose of which would be to demand a Nation-al Convention representing all the people of South Africa.

25 26 March 1961

The ALL-IN AFRICAN CONFERENCE iS held in Pietermaritzburg, Natal. This Conference resolves:

WE DECLARE that no constitution or form of government decided without the participation of the African people who form an absolute majority of the population can enjoy moral validity or merit support either within South Africa or beyond its borders. 2. WE DEMAND that a NATIONAL CONVENTION of elected representatives of all adult men and women on an equal basis irrespective of race, colour, creed or other limitation, be called by the Union government no later than 31 May 1961; that the convention shall have sovereign powers to determine, in any way the majority of the representatives decide, a new non-racial democratic constitution for South Africa.'

20 April 1961

NELSON MANDELA WRITES TO H. F. VEREOERD, referring to the rising tide of unrest in many parts of the country. In his letter Mandela states that he was directed to write that 'It was the earnest opinion of Conference that this dangerous situation could be averted only by the calling of a sovereign national convention representative of all South Africans, to draw up a new non-racial and democratic Constitution.' (Schedule of Documents, Document 9)

31 April 1961

South Africa is declared a REPUBLIC.

16 June 1976

Uprisings (known as the 16 JUNE UPRISINGS) by pupils protesting against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of teaching in schools.

November 1985

MANDELA WRITES TO HIS PRISON WARDEN. His request for a meeting with the government would be positively received.

1 April 1989

UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTION 435 OF 1978 is implemented, beginning Namibia's transition to independence.

5 July 1989

NELSON MANDELA MEETS WITH P. W. BOTHA. In a document prepared for this meeting (Schedule of Documents, Document 12), Mandela states that 'I now consider it necessary in the national interest for the African National Congress and the government to meet urgently to negotiate an effective political settlement.'

21 August 1989

The ANC's HARARE DECLARATION (Schedule of Documents, Document 13) is adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

September 1989

A DEFIANCE CAMPAIGN AND MARCHES are organized by structures of the Mass Democratic Movement in the United Democratic Front.

15 October 1989

Several ANC LEADERS ARE RELEASED from prison.

8 December 1989

The CONFERENCE FOR A DEMOCRATIC FUTURE takes place, a meeting of 6000 representatives of the Mass Democratic Movement, and passes a resolution in favour of negotiation. (Schedule of Documents, Document 14)

12 December 1989

NELSON MANDELA WRITES HIS FIRST LETTER TO F. W. DE KLERK after a meeting with Ministers Kobie Coetsee and Gerrit Viljoen. Once again, Mandela warns of an urgent need for negotiations to take place (Schedule of Documents, Document 15). The ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) meets in Lusaka and resolves to consider the option of a negotiated settlement.

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