Quotes by Nelson Mandela
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Nelson Mandela. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as the president of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.
A Xhosa speaker, Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in Mvezo, Union of South Africa. He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. There he became involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding its Youth League in 1944. After the National Party's white-only government established apartheid, a system of racial segregation that privileged whites, he and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Mandela was appointed president of the ANC's Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962, and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state following the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, split between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Amid growing domestic and international pressure and fears of racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk led efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid, which resulted in the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country's racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Economically, Mandela's administration retained its predecessor's liberal framework despite his own socialist beliefs, also introducing measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and served as secretary-general of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He declined a second presidential term and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the far left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid's supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Thembu clan name, Madiba, and described as the "Father of the Nation".
The anchor of all my dreams is the collective wisdom of mankind as a whole.
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.
Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
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.
There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.
Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.
The knowledge that in your day you did your duty, and lived up to the expectations of your fellow men is in itself a rewarding experience and magnificent achievement.
If our expectations--if our fondest prayers and dreams-- are not realized, then we should all bear in mind that the greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.
The secret to success is to learn to accept the impossible, to do without the indispensable, and to bear the intolerable.
History will surely judge us harshly if we do not respond with all the energy and resources that we can bring to bear in the fight against HIV AIDS.
Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.
I discovered even before I went to jail that apartheid was not run by people who were monolithic in their approach. Some of them didn't even believe in apartheid.
If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.
We need a fundamental change of mindset with regards to the way we speak and behave about sex and sexuality. Boys and men have a particularly critical role in this regard, changing the chauvinist and demeaning ways sexuality and women were traditionally dealt with in both our actions and speaking.
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.
I say to all those leaders, do not look the other way. Do not hesitate... It is within your power to avoid a genocide of humanity.
When I closed THE GRAPES OF WRATH, I was a different man. It enriched my powers of thinking and discipline, and my relationships. I left prison more informed than when I went in. And the more informed you are, the less arrogant and aggressive you are.
We now undertake that we cannot rest while millions of our people suffer the pain and indignity of poverty in all its forms.
We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart; and to move ourselves to eradicate a legacy that lurks dangerously as a threat to our democracy.
I am fundamentally an optimist.
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.
Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.
Freedom is meaningless if people cannot put food in their stomachs, if they can have no shelter, if illiteracy and disease continue to dog them.
We should never forget those on whose shoulders we stand and those who paid the supreme price for freedom.
Strong convictions are the secret of surviving deprivation; your spirit can be full even when your stomach is empty.
As we judge others so are we judged by others. The suspicious will always be tormented by suspicion.
I appeal to the Youth and those on the ground: start talking to each other across divisions of race and political organizations.
It is my deepest conviction that the children should be seen and heard as our most treasured assets.
What has sustained me even in the most grim moments is the knowledge that I am a member of a tried and tested family which has triumphed over many difficulties.
Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial; and when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another.
Racism is a blight on the human conscience.
Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as subhuman, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods.
What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.
Although Verwoerd thought Africans were lower than animals, his death did not yield us any pleasure. Political assassination is not something I or the ANC ever supported. It is a primitive way of contending with an opponent.
Where people of goodwill get together and transcend their differences for the common good, peaceful and just solutions can be found even for those problems which seem most intractable.
There is nothing more important in life than giving. Tolerance is forged when people look beyond their own desires.
In the end, reconciliation is a spiritual process, which requires more than just a legal framework. It has to happen in the hearts and minds of people.
We raise our voices in holy gladness to celebrate the victory of the risen Christ over the terrible forces of death.
Continuously, we have to fight to defeat the primitive tendency towards the glorification of arms, the adulation of force, born of the illusion that injustice can be perpetuated by the capacity to kill, or that disputes are necessarily best resolved by resort to violent means.
Of course we desire education and we think it is a good thing, but you don't have to have education in order to know that you want certain fundamental rights, you have got aspirations, you have got acclaims. It has nothing to do with education whatsoever.
Poetry cannot block a bullet or still a sjambok, but it can bear witness to brutality-thereby cultivating a flower in a graveyard.
We don't have to be victims of our past, that we can let go of our bitterness, and that all of us can achieve greatness.
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.
I was neglected by my family because I had disappointed them -- I'd run away from being forced into an arranged marriage, which was a big blow to them.
Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers.
It enables me to go to bed with an enriching feeling in my soul and the belief that I am changing myself.
We can build a society grounded on friendship and our common humanity -- a society founded on tolerance. That is the only road open to us.
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.
Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place.
I looked into the vast dome of blue emptiness that stretched out above me in all directions and the illusion was still there, the size and speed, and what information they were sending to mother earth.
I understand that the legal position is under review in South Africa and that there will soon be a broader set of organizations to which donors can give and claim tax deductions.
The impression that you are a demigod worried me. I wanted to be like an ordinary human being with virtues and vices.
When you are behind bars with no hope of release, you need to find strength wherever you can. Personally, I found strength in Michael Jackson.
No matter what I suffered in my pursuit of freedom, I always took strength from the fact that I was fighting with and for my own people. Bram was a free man who fought against his own people to ensure the freedom of others.
I commend #AIESEC's continuing efforts to develop the #future #business #leadership of our countries.
Trade justice for the developing world and for this generation is a truly significant way for the developed countries to show commitment to bringing about an end to global poverty.
The history of struggle is rich with stories of heroes and heroines -- some of them leaders, some of them followers, all of them deserve to be remembered.
To a freedom fighter hope is what a lifebelt is to a swimmer -- a guarantee that one will keep afloat and free from danger.
I will use the rest of my life to help the poor overcome the problems confronting them -- poverty is the greatest challenge facing humanity. That is why I build schools; I want to free people from poverty and illiteracy.
Through its imperialist system Britain brought about untold suffering of millions of people. And this is an historical fact. To be able to admit this would increase the respect, you know, which we have for British institutions.
One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.
The authorities liked to say that we received a balanced diet; it was indeed balanced -- between the unpalatable and the inedible.
Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation.
Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.
There will be life after Mandela. On my last day I want to know that those who remain behind will say: 'The man who lies here has done his duty for his country and his people.'
The Church was as concerned with this world as the next: I saw that virtually all of the achievements of Africans seemed to have come about through the missionary work of the Church.
The importance of a high moral code, which is at the foundation of the Scout movement, cannot be stressed too highly.
My dream would be a multicultural society, one that is diverse and where every man, woman and child are treated equally. I dream of a world where all people of all races work together in harmony.
But the hard facts were that fifty years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation, and fewer and fewer rights.
We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know:
That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.
An initiative was essentially led by civil society because the policy of the government was that Africans must not be taught to graze in pastures which were reserved for the main white group.
Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one's commitment.
Only armchair politicians are immune from committing mistakes. Errors are inherent in political action.
Education is the great engine to personal development.
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 farm workers 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.
I knew we could improve our lives even in jail. We could come out as different men, and we could even come out with two degrees. Educating ourselves was a way to give ourselves the most powerful weapon for freedom.
The relations between a man and his or her god is a personal matter; you can't go out and challenge the belief of people in a superior being.
Let us give practical recognition to the injustices of the past,by building a future based on equality and social justice.
No problem is so deep that it cannot be overcome, given the will of all parties, through discussion and negotiation rather than force and violence.
Prison is designed to break one's spirit and destroy one's resolve. To do this, the authorities attempt to exploit every weakness, demolish every initiative, negate all signs of individuality -- all with the idea of stamping out that spark that makes each of us human and each of us who we are.
It can be said that there are four basic and primary things that the mass of people in a society wish for: to live in a safe environment, to be able to work and provide for themselves, to have access to good public health and to have sound educational opportunities for their children.
It is the dictate of history to bring to the fore the kind of leaders who seize the moment, who cohere the wishes and aspirations of the oppressed. Such was Steve Biko, a fitting product of his time; a proud representative of the re-awakening of a people.
And as we let our own 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.
I know that, throughout the world, there are good men and women concerned with the greatest challenges facing society today -- poverty, illiteracy, and disease.
I went as an observer, not a participant, for I do not think that I ever spoke. I wanted to understand the issues under discussion, evaluate the arguments, see the calibre of the men involved.
Let the efforts of us all, prove that he Martin Luther King was not a mere dreamer when he spoke of the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace being more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.
The time comes in the life of any nation when there remains only two choices -- submit or fight.
The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices - submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defense of our people, our future, and our freedom.
The challenge for each one of you is to take up these ideals of tolerance and respect for others and put them to practical use in your schools, your communities and throughout your lives.
In Africa there is a concept known as 'ubuntu' -- the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others.
Individuals get caught up in the policy of their country. In prison, for instance, a warden or officer is not promoted if he doesn't follow the policy of the government -- though he himself does not believe in that policy.
When I went to jail, I was a trained lawyer. And when the wardens received letters of demands or summonses, they didn't have the resources to go to an attorney to help them. I would help them settle their cases, so they became attached to me and the other prisoners.
We need to exert ourselves that much more, and break out of the vicious cycle of dependence imposed on us by the financially powerful: those in command of immense market power and those who dare to fashion the world in their own image.
I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.
In my younger days, I was arrogant -- jail helped me to get rid of it. I did nothing but make enemies because of my arrogance.
The very right to be human is denied every day to hundreds of millions of people as a result of poverty, the unavailability of basic necessities such as food, jobs, water and shelter, education, health care and a healthy environment.
Only 50 years ago persons with intellectual disabilities were scorned, isolated and neglected. Today, they are able to attend school, become employed and assimilate into their local community.
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.
I am influenced more than ever before by the conviction that social equality is the only basis of human happiness.
I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one's body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match.
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.
The world remains beset by so much human suffering, poverty and deprivation. It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all, especially the poor, vulnerable and marginalised.
One of the sad realities today is that very few people, especially young people, read books. Unless we can find imaginative ways of addressing this reality, future generations are in danger of losing their history.
There is nobody more dangerous than one who has been humiliated, even when you humiliate him rightly.
I like a leader who can, while pointing out a mistake, bring up the good things the other person has done. If you do that, then the person sees that you have a complete picture of him. There is nobody more dangerous than one who has been humiliated, even when you humiliate him rightly.
Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.
I have always endeavoured to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion.
The New World Order that is in the making must focus on the creation of a world of democracy, peace, and prosperity for all.
On the The AIDS Epidemic: This is a war. It has killed more people than has been the case in all previous wars and in all previous natural disasters ... We must not continue to be debating, to be arguing, when people are dying.
Our freedom is also incomplete, dear compatriots, as long as we are denied our security by criminals who prey on our communities, who rob our businesses and undermine our economy, who ply their destructive trade in drugs in our schools, and who do violence against our women and children.
Our experience has taught us that with goodwill a negotiated solution can be found for even the most profound problems.
The message of reconciliation, of nation-building, of granting amnesty, indemnity, has struck a powerful, favorable chord. And people can understand that we're here not for purposes of retribution but to forget the past and to build our country.
I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.
We are extricating ourselves from a system that insulted our common humanity by dividing us from one another on the basis of race and setting us against each other as oppressed and oppressor. That system committed a crime against humanity.
He knew when to compromise. Yet he never compromised his principles. He was a militant. Yet a militant who knew how to plan, assess concrete situations and emerge with rational solutions to problems.
Our motto should be: let us make peace so that we can concentrate on the really important work that needs to be done. That is, alleviating the plight of the poor and the defenceless, for as long as most of humanity feels the pain of poverty we all remain prisoners.
Today we are a nation at peace with itself, united in our diversity, not only proclaiming but living out the contention that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. We take our place amongst the nations of the world, confident and proud in being an African country.
A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle,and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor.At a point, one can only fight fire with fire.
A new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged.
The call now is for each of us to ask ourselves: are we doing all we can to help build the country of our dreams?
This must be a world of democracy and respect for human rights, a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance, relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil wars and external aggression and unburdened of the great tragedy of millions forced to become refugees.
Isimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (rhinoceros) and the world biggest terrestrial mammal (elephant) share an ecosystem with the world's oldest fish (coelacanth) and the world's biggest marine mammal (whale).
We must appreciate that all over the world, right down the centuries, there have been great religions that have encouraged the idea of giving -- of fighting poverty and of promoting the equality of human beings -- whatever their background, whatever their political beliefs.
Who could doubt that sport is a crucial window for the propagation of fair play and justice? After all, fair play is a value that is essential to sport.
The private sector granted bursaries scholarships for the children of their workers. Some of them built homes for their workers. They had in-service training, which improved the skills of their workers. So that spirit was there. All we did was merely exploit it.
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.
It is our duty to give support to the brother leader ... especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people ... our African brothers and sisters.
We tried in our simple way to lead our life in a manner that may make a difference to those of others.
I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There is no end and no beginning; there is only one's mind, which can begin to play tricks. Was that a dream or did it really happen? One begins to question everything.
Let us remind ourselves that it is ordinary people -- men and women, boys and girls -- that make the world a special place.
We slaughter one another in our words and attitudes. We slaughter one another in the stereotypes and mistrust that linger in our heads, and the words of hate we spew from our lips.
These numbers are staggering, in fact incomprehensible. By all accounts, we are dealing with the greatest health crisis in human history.
In human affairs, no single person, organisation or social formation ever has a final or an absolutely correct position. It is through conversation, debate and critical discussion that we approach positions that may provide workable solutions.
Whether you change the linen or stitch up wounds, cook the food or dispense the medicines, it is in your hands to help build a public service worthy of all those who gave their lives for the dream of democracy.
Honesty,sincer ity,simplicity, humility, pure generosity,abse nce of vanity,readines s to serve others -qualities which are within easy reach of every soul -are the foundation of one's spiritual life.
The Good News borne by our risen Messiah who chose not one race, who chose not one country, who chose not one language, who chose not one tribe, who chose all of humankind!
We have laid the foundation for a better life. Things that were unimaginable a few years ago have become everyday reality. I belong to the generation of leaders for whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge.
One effect of sustained conflict is to narrow our vision of what is possible. Time and time again, conflicts are resolved through shifts that were unimaginable at the start.
There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile to continue talking about peace and non-violence against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people.
The collapse of good conscience and the absence of accountability and public scrutiny have led to crimes against humanity and violations of international law.
I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.
Leaders will have to give clear and decisive leadership towards a world of tolerance and respect for difference, and an uncompromising commitment to peaceful solutions of conflicts and disputes.
Educating all of our children must be one of our most urgent priorities. We all know that education, more than anything else, improves our chances of
building better lives.
I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I, and you, the people, are not free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.
We must work together to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth, opportunity and power in our society.
I have always admired men and women who used their talents to serve the community, and who were highly respected and admired for their efforts and sacrifices, even though they held no office whatsoever in government or society.
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