Some key points in the early life of civil rights activist Nelson Mandela include the death of his father and his enrollment in the University College of Fort Hare. These events took place all before the age of 25.
When Mandela was nine years old, his father passed away from lung cancer. Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, regent of the Thembu people, adopted Mandela. This adoption gave Mandela access to education and he learned of the struggle between the black native Africans and the influx of Dutch white foreigners. In 1939, Mandela spent the first of two years at the University College of Fort Hare, the only such college for blacks in South Africa. During his time there, he showed his rebellious streak by refusing to sit on the Student Representative Council until the council had more power, a position that put him in line with the majority of the students.