Mandela Quotes and Interesting information


During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. 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 live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realised. But if needs be, my lord, it is an ideal for which I am ready to die. – At the Rivonia trial, 20 April 1964

Nelson Mandela in his boxing days. © Mayibuye Centre)

We plan to make government impossible. I have chosen this latter course which is more difficult and entails more risk and hardship than sitting in jail. I have had to separate myself from my dear wife and children, from my mother and sisters, to live as an outlaw in my own land. I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in poverty and misery. - ANC press statement made from hiding, 26 June 1961

We are not anti-white, we are against white supremacy ”¦ we have condemned racialism no matter by whom it is professed. - Nelson Mandela, defence statement during the Treason Trial, 1961

Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. - Nelson Mandela, refusing to bargain for freedom after 21 years in prison, as quoted in TIME, 25 February 1985

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 my life in your hands. - On his release from prison, 11 February 1990

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 - Our March to Freedom is Irreversible,1990

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 - Our March to Freedom is Irreversible, 1990

Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. - Nelson Mandela, Our March to Freedom is Irreversible, 1990

[A] new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged. – Nelson Mandela, Nobel lecture, 1993

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 - Nobel Lecture 1993

Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world, confer glory and hope to newborn liberty. Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.

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 - 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."  - From Mandela's inaugural address as President of South Africa

"We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.

Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are both humbled and elevated by the honor and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. 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.

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 fulfill themselves.

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.

Let freedom reign. - Extracts from Inaugural Address as President of South Africa, 10 May 1994

We are not anti-white, we are against white supremacy ”¦ we have condemned racialism no matter by whom it is professed." Nelson Mandela, defence statement during the Treason Trial, 1961.

We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without and fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world. - Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Address, Pretoria 9 May 1994

Today we are entering a new era for our country and its people. Today we celebrate not the victory of a party, but a victory for all the people of South Africa. - Nelson Mandela - Inaugural speech, 1994

Perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores. - Nelson Mandela - Inaugural speech, 1994

Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual. We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens. - Nelson Mandela, speech at the opening of the South African parliament, Cape Town 25 May 1994

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered. - Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk To Freedom, 1994

If we had any hopes or illusions about the National Party before they came into office, we were disabused of them quickly”¦The arbitrary and meaningless tests to decide black from Coloured or Coloured from white often resulted in tragic cases”¦Where one was allowed to live and work could rest on such absurd distinctions as the curl of one's hair or the size of one's lips. - Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom, 1994

”¦the only [other] thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means 'pulling the branch of a tree', but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be 'troublemaker'. - Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom, 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, Long Walk To Freedom, 1994

The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.- Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom, 1994

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Nelson Mandela, Long Walk To Freedom, 1994

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. - Nelson MandelaLong Walk To Freedom, 1994

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death. - Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise. - Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

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, Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

Let's hope that Ken Osterbroek will be the last person to die. - Nelson Mandela - Spoken shortly after Inkatha announced that they would participate in the 1994 elections. The Bang-Bang Club p. 168

Freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets. - Nelson Mandela, speech, 27 April, 1995

We owe it to all the peoples of the sub-continent to ensure that they see in us, not merely good leaders waxing lyrical about development, but as the front commanders in the blast furnaces of labour, productive investments and visible change. - Nelson Mandela, Southern African Development Community (SADC) 15th anniversary summit, Johannesburg 13 September 1995

The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. - Nelson Mandela - Address at The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 4 December 1997

”¦ we charge you with the responsibility to lead our peoples and Continent into the new world of the next century – which must be an African Century – during which all our people will be freed of the bitterness born of the marginalisation and degradation of our proud continent of Africa. - Nelson Mandela, speech to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 8 June 1998

I am the product of Africa and her long-cherished view of rebirth that can now be realised so that all of her children may play in the sun. - Nelson Mandela's final speech as president to the South African parliament, Cape Town 26 March 1999

The achievement of democracy was the defining challenge - the long walk continues. - Farewell speech to Parliament, 29 March 1999

South Africans must recall the terrible past so that we can deal with it, forgiving where forgiveness is necessary but never forgetting. - Nelson Mandela, on leaving office as South African president, 15 June 1999

I must step down while there are one or two people who admire me. - Nelson Mandela, Daily Nation, Kenyan paper, 16 June 1999

Apartheid was experienced as such a basic onslaught against human dignity that it demeaned all of us - one has an appreciation for the support received from people all over the world, irrespective of their party political affiliation. - Speech to the British Labour Party conference, 29 September 2000

A tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa. - Nelson Mandela, closing speech of the International Aids Conference, Durban December 2000

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, Larry King Live, May 16, 2000

The time is always right to do right. - Nelson Mandela, "The 100 Best Things Ever Said by Men" in South Africa's Men's Health magazine, February 2002

South Africans have no concept of time and this is also why we can't solve poverty and social problems”¦ It's now 10 years since the fall of the Apartheid government and we cannot blame Apartheid for being tardy. - Nelson Mandela, 22 August 2003.

It's a tragedy what is happening, what Bush is doing. All Bush wants is Iraqi oil. There is no doubt that the U.S. is behaving badly. Why are they not seeking to confiscate weapons of mass destruction from their ally Israel? This is just an excuse to get Iraq's oil. - Nelson Mandela - Iraq War speech, 2003

What I am condemning is that one power, with a president [George W. Bush] who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust. - Nelson Mandela - Iraq War speech, 2003

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

There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and non-violence - against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenceless people. And I think the time has come for us to consider, in the light of our experiences at this day at home, whether the methods which we have applied so far are adequate.  - Nelson Mandela

I remember we adjourned for lunch and a friendly Afrikaner warder asked me the question, "Mandela, what do you think is going to happen to you in this case?" I said to him, "Agh, they are going to hang us." Now, I was really expecting some word of encouragement from him. And I thought he was going to say, "Agh man, that can never happen." But he became serious and then he said, "I think you are right, they are going to hang you." - Nelson Mandela - All Things Considered (NPR) broadcast, 27 April 2004

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

People don't realize that I played rugby myself. It is a very rough game, almost as rough as politics. - Nelson Mandela being interviewed by a sports caster, Invictus

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the talk of the world. - At his inauguration. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

Some of you may know who I am. I could not help noticing the empty offices as I came to work this morning and all of the packing up. Now, of course, if you want to leave, that is your right. And if in your heart you feel that you cannot work with your new government then it is better if you do leave right away. But if you are packing up because you fear that your language or the color of your skin or who you worked for before disqualifies you from working here, I am here to tell you to have no such fear. What is today is today, the past is the past -- we look to the future now. - His first day as President addressing his staff.  Nelson Mandela, Invictus

Forgiveness never hurts the soul. It removes fear, that is why it is such a powerful weapon. - convincing his chief bodyguard to work with the white security personnel. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

Yes, I know, but in this instance the people are wrong. As their elected leader it is my job to show them that. - being told that he is wrong to support the rugby team because the people do not like them. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

The day that I am afraid to do that, is the day I am no longer fit to lead. - being told that he is risking his political capital and future as a leader if he supports the Springboks. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

This is no time for petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation using every single brick available to us even if that brick comes wrapped in green and gold. - pleading with the black sports committee to keep the Springboks. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

That minority still controls the police, the army and the big economy. If we lose them, we cannot address the other issues. If we take away what they cherish, the Springboks, their national anthem -- we just reinforce the cycle of fear between us. I will do what I must to break that cycle or it will destroy us. - being counselled against placating the White minority. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

You criticize without understanding. You seek only to address your own personal feelings. That is selfish thinking. It does not serve the nation. - his daughter tells him that she did not like seeing him shake hands with the White Francois Pienaar. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

Yes, well, obviously that is no longer true. I am 100% behind our boys. After all, if I cannot change when the circumstances demand it, how can I expect others to? - asked by a sports caster why he used to support any team who played the Springboks. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. - reflecting on his years in prison.  Nelson Mandela, Invictus

That's not enough. Not now. Not so close. This country is hungry for greatness. - his advisor tells him that the Springboks have met all expectations both on and off the field. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

According to the experts, you and I should still be in jail. - one of his aides tells him that according to the experts their rugby team won't reach the quarter-finals. Nelson Mandela, Invictus

People don't realize that I played rugby myself. It is a very rough game, almost as rough as politics." - (being interviewed by a sports caster) Nelson Mandela, Invictus

Afrikaners...ordentlike mense wat mislei is deur hul leiers.

(Afrikaners ... decent people misled by their leaders.) ~ Nelson Mandela- afrq 25 (Afrika, Afrikaner en Afrikaans;)

Die uitdaging van die Nuwe Patriotisme is nie een van 'n keuse tussen Afrikanerdom en Suid-Afrikanerskap nie. Inteendeel, dit is gewis oor die genesende versoening van Afrikaners met volle Suid-Afrikanerskap. [The new challenge pertaining to New Patriotism is not one of choice between Afrikanerdom and South African citizenship. In contrary, it is about the healing reunion of Africans with the full right to South African citizenship.] ~ Nelson Mandela Afrika, (Afrika, Afrikaner en Afrikaans)

'n Mens het letterkunde in jou lewe nodig, want daarsonder gaan jy agteruit. [One needs literacy in life, without it we lack progress] ~ Nelson Mandela (Literatuur;>)

Ons kon nie deur middel van die letterkunde kennis gemaak het met menslike reuse soos George Washington, Abraham Lincoln en Thomas Jefferson sonder om in dade oor te gaan soos hulle in dade oorgegaan het nie. [Becoming acquainted with giants like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, could not be made through acquiring knowledge only, but by following in the footsteps of their deeds.] ~ Nelson Mandela (Literatuur;)

Dit maak nie saak of die kat swart of wit is nie, mits hy muise kan vang. [Whether the cat is black or white, is not important, his ability to catch mice is] ~ Nelson Mandela - oor watter ekonomiese stelsel Sui-Afrika moet kry, 1990 (Ekonomie;)

Die geskiedenis straf diegene wat hul tot geweld en bedrog wend om die aansprake en wettige aspirasie van die meerderheid van 'n land se burgers te onderdruk. [History punishes those who used violence and fraud claims to suppress the legitimate aspiration of the majority of the country's citizens.] ~ Nelson Mandela

Let no individual, section, faction or group ever regard itself as greater than the organisation and the common good of all our people. – ANC rally N.M. 90th birthday

A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of. – N.M. 6th Annual Lecture

To the youth of today, I also have a wish to make: Be the script writers of your destiny and feature yourselves as the stars that showed the way towards a brighter future. – Children’s celebration

Where there is poverty and sickness, including AIDS, where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done. Our work is for freedom for all. We say tonight, after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now, I thank you. – 46664 concert

It is now in the hands of your generations to help rid the world of such suffering. – 46664 fund-raising dinner

• Anon, (2001), 'Mandela - In his own words - Quotations from Nelson Mandela's best-known speeches and statements', from UK Guardian,[online], Available at [Accessed: 5 July 2011]
• Anon, (unknown), 'Quotes: Nelson Mandela', from Africanhistory, [online] Available at [Accessed: 5 June 2011]
• Anon, (Unknown), 'Nelson Mandela Quotes', from notablequotes, [online] Available at [Accessed: 5 June 2011]
• Anon, (Unknown), 'Nelson Mandela Quotes', from Goodreads, [online] Available at [Accessed: 5 June 2011] Anon, (Unknown), 'Nelson Mandela Quotes', from andiquote, [online] Available at [Accessed: 5 June 2011]
• Anon, (Unknown), 'Nelson Mandela Quotes', from andiquote, [online] Available at [Accessed: 5 June 2011]
• Anon, (Unknown), 'Nelson Mandela Quotes', from tvmoviequotes, [online] Available at [Accessed: 5 June 2011]

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