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10 quotes from Nelson Mandela

The 5th of December marks the anniversary of the death of a global icon, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa’s first black, and democratically elected president who served from 1994 to 1999. We remember the Nobel Prize winner, philanthropist and anti-Apartheid revolutionary through his words.

Madiba, as he was affectionately referred to spent 27 years in prison and fervently fought for democracy, racial equality and reconciliation. A true son of Africa, a Pan-Africanist, nationalist, charismatic orator, thinker and African statesman.

During his lifetime, Mandela inspired the world with his astounding words of wisdom and peace. We pay homage to him by remembering the words he left us from a selection of his famous quotes.

1. “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 achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” —Rivonia trial, 1964

2. “As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”

3. “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”.

4. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” —Ambassador of Conscience Award Acceptance Speech, 2006.

Nelson Mandela. Photo: Matthew William
Nelson Mandela. Photo: Matthew William

5. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

6. “No one is born hating another person because of the color 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.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

7. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

8. “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.” —International Press Institute Congress, 1994

9. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” —Ambassador of Conscience Award Acceptance Speech, November, 2006

10. “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. 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. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”

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