Nelson Mandela Quotes

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Born: 18 July 1918, Mvezo, Eastern Cape, Union of South Africa

Rolihlahla was the son of Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, chief of the town of Mvezo, but the father alienated colonial authorities and the family moved to Qunu. When the father died of tuberculosis, the new king of the Thembu tribe adopted Rolihlahla and gave him the surname Mandela. He was the first member of his family to attend school, a Wesleyan mission school where his teacher gave him the English name Nelson. He was initiated into the Thembu tribe at ate sixteen and sent to Clarkebury Boarding Institute which he finished in two years. He attended Fort Hare University for one year before his involvement in a boycott of university policy and was asked to leave. He and another tribal member were told that marriages had been arranged for them, both of them left for Johannesburg to avoid marriage. There Mandelacompleted earned a BA from the University of South Africa by correspondence, then studied law at the University of Witwatersrand. He was involved in a number of non-violent campaigns against the white government which lead to his arrest and trial for treason in 1956. In 1961 Mandela led the African National Conference’s armed wing, organizing a campaign of sabotage against military and governmental targets. He was arrested, with CIA help, the next year he was sentenced to five years. While in prison, new charges were brought against Mandela and group of ANC leaders, all were given life sentences in 1964. During this time Mandela was an intellectual and strategic leader of the ANC, he also received the Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of London External Programme. REsponding to a worldwide call for his release, newly-elected president F. W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and released Mandela. Mandela was elected president of the ANC and became president of South America in the first multi-racial election in 1994, an office he held for five year. In retirement he has worked for children’s charities and effective treatment for AIDS. He shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk and has received high honors from Canada, England, India, Turkey, and the US for his work.

Nelson Mandela quotes:

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
    Nelson Mandela

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
    Nelson Mandela

A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.
    Nelson Mandela

A new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged.
    Nelson Mandela

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
    Nelson Mandela

Any man that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
    Nelson Mandela

As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.
    Nelson Mandela

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
    Nelson Mandela

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    Nelson Mandela

Communists have always played an active role in the fight by colonial countries for their freedom, because the short-term objects of Communism would always correspond with the long-term objects of freedom movements.
    Nelson Mandela

Does anybody really think that they didn’t get what they had because they didn’t have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment?
    Nelson Mandela

Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.
    Nelson Mandela

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
    Nelson Mandela

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
    Nelson Mandela

Freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets.
    Nelson Mandela

Friends, Comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
    Nelson Mandela

I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man.
    Nelson Mandela

I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
    Nelson Mandela

I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.
    Nelson Mandela

I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.
    Nelson Mandela

I hate racial discrimination most intensely and all its manifestations. I have fought all my life; I fight now, and will do so until the end of my days. Even although I now happen to be tried by one, whose opinion I hold in high esteem, I detest most violently the set-up that surrounds me here. It makes me feel that I am a Black man in a White man’s court. This should not be. I should feel perfectly at ease and at home with the assurance that I am being tried by a fellow South African, who does not regard me as an inferior, entitled to a special type of justice.
    Nelson Mandela

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
    Nelson Mandela – closing argument at his trial (1964)

I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A man does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards, but when I was notified that I had won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Mr de Klerk, I was deeply moved.
    Nelson Mandela

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
    Nelson Mandela

I must deal immediately and at some length with the question of violence. Some of the things so far told to the Court are true and some are untrue. I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites.
    Nelson Mandela

I regard it as a duty which I owed, not just to my people, but also to my profession, to the practice of law, and to the justice for all mankind, to cry out against this discrimination which is essentially unjust and opposed to the whole basis of the attitude towards justice which is part of the tradition of legal training in this country. I believed that in taking up a stand against this injustice I was upholding the dignity of what should be an honorable profession.
    Nelson Mandela

I say to all those leaders: Do not look the other way, do not hesitate … It is within your power to prevent a genocide.
    Nelson Mandela

I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
    Nelson Mandela

I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.
    Nelson Mandela

I watched, along with all of you, as the tens of thousands of our people stood patiently in long queues for many hours. Some sleeping on the open ground overnight waiting to cast this momentous vote.
    Nelson Mandela

I say to all those leaders: Do not look the other way, do not hesitate … It is within your power to prevent a genocide.

Nelson Mandela
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.

Nelson Mandela
I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.

Nelson Mandela
I watched, along with all of you, as the tens of thousands of our people stood patiently in long queues for many hours. Some sleeping on the open ground overnight waiting to cast this momentous vote.

Nelson Mandela
If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.

Nelson Mandela
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

Nelson Mandela
In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.

Nelson Mandela
In my country we go to prison first and then become President.

Nelson Mandela
In the 21st Century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right.

Nelson Mandela
It always seems impossible until its done.

Nelson Mandela

widely attributed, not found in his published works
It doesn’t do any good to say I won’t forgive her, because my child’s already gone.

Nelson Mandela
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.

Nelson Mandela
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.

Nelson Mandela
It is fit and proper to raise the question sharply, what is this rigid colour-bar in the administration of justice? Why is it that in this courtroom I face a white magistrate, am confronted by a white prosecutor, and escorted into the dock by a white orderly? Can anyone honestly and seriously suggest that in this type of atmosphere the scales of justice are evenly balanced?

Nelson Mandela

It is said that no-one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.

Nelson Mandela
Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

Nelson Mandela
Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.

Nelson Mandela
Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all.

Nelson Mandela
Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

Nelson Mandela
Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.

Nelson Mandela
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Nelson Mandela

inaugural address (1994)
No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Nelson Mandela
No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.

Nelson Mandela
Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.

Nelson Mandela
Our continent must be allowed to do its own things, charting its course and destiny.

Nelson Mandela
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.

Nelson Mandela
Our hope is that the elementary reading of comics will lead to the joy of reading good books.

Nelson Mandela
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.

Nelson Mandela
Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one’s commitment.

Nelson Mandela

Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.

Nelson Mandela
Strong convictions are the secret of surviving deprivation; your spirit can be full even when your stomach is empty.

Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom (1994)
The authorities liked to say that we received a balanced diet; it was indeed balanced – between the unpalatable and the inedible.

Nelson Mandela
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela
The calm and tolerant atmosphere that prevailed during the elections depicts the type of South Africa we can build. It set the tone for the future. We might have our differences, but we are one people with a common destiny in our rich variety of culture, race and tradition.

Nelson Mandela
The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope.

Nelson Mandela
The Free State Landscape gladdens my heart, no matter what my mood. When I am here I feel that nothing can shut me in and that my thoughts can roam as far as the horizons.

Nelson Mandela
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Nelson Mandela
The human body has an enormous capacity for adjusting to trying circumstances. I have found that one can bear the unbearable if one can keep one’s spirits strong even when one’s body is being tested. Strong convictions are the secret of surviving deprivation; your spirit can be full even when your stomach is empty.

Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom (1994)
The majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organization and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy.

Nelson Mandela
The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.

Nelson Mandela
The victory of democracy in South Africa is the common achievement of all humanity.

Nelson Mandela
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Nelson Mandela
There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.

Nelson Mandela
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

Nelson Mandela

There is no such thing as part freedom.

Nelson Mandela
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

Nelson Mandela
There must be an end to white monopoly on political power, and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratized.

Nelson Mandela
There was much in such a society that was primitive and insecure and it certainly could never measure up to the demands of the present epoch. But in such a society are contained the seeds of revolutionary democracy in which none will be held in slavery.

Nelson Mandela
Those South Africans who berate me for being loyal to our friends, literally they can go and throw themselves into a pool. I am not going to betray the trust of those who helped us.

Nelson Mandela
To go to prison because of your convictions and be prepared to suffer for what you believe in, is something worthwhile. It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on earth irrespective of the consequences.

Nelson Mandela

after release from prison (1990)
Tomorrow, the entire ANC leadership and I will be back at our desks. We are rolling up our sleeves to begin tackling the problems our country faces. We ask you all to join us: Go back to your jobs in the morning. Let’s get South Africa working.

Nelson Mandela
We all felt on top of the world. It was a justification for the sacrifices which had been made by our people since the arrival of whites in this country in 1652.

Nelson Mandela
We cannot proclaim this century the African Century and then ignore the AIDS pandemic, as some political leaders are apt to do. To claim this century the African Century is to declare war on AIDS.

Nelson Mandela
We live with the hope that as she battles to remake herself, South Africa, will be like a microcosm of the new world that is striving to be born.

Nelson Mandela
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all.

Nelson Mandela
We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Nelson Mandela
We speak here of the challenge of the dichotomies of war and peace, violence and non-violence, racism and human dignity, oppression and repression and liberty and human rights, poverty and freedom from want.

Nelson Mandela
When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.

Nelson Mandela
You know you are famous when you discover you have become a comic book character.

Nelson Mandela

Your playing small does not serve the world…. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.

Nelson Mandela, inaugural address (1994)

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