Sinlung /
06 December 2013

Nelson Mandela: Famous Quotes

RIP Madiba...

On his ideals (1964 trial)

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters) "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 will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

On becoming an anti-apartheid leader

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)
'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.'

On revenge

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)
 'You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.'

On leadership

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)

'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.'

On racism

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)

'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.'

On hatred

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)
''As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.'

On life's challenges

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

On courage

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)
''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.'

On resentment

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters) 'Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.'

On doing the right thing

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)

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

On communication

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)
'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.'

On changing the world

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters) 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.'

On prison

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)

'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.'

On freedom

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)

'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.'

On hope

Nelson Mandela (© Reuters)

'It always seems impossible until it's done.'


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