Nelson Mandela was a well known South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, philanthropist. He was the first black President of South Africa elected in a fully representative democratic election from 1994 to 1999. He stepped down from the presidency after one term, true to his promise and continued his work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, also established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.
His book Long Walk written during a quarter-century prison sentence is not just a political autobiography but a page turner for many.
His life was a combination of epic struggle, setbacks, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph – won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality, and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to many of those faced with oppression. His work gives hope to all who have been deprived freedom.
He came from a family of 10 children in the Madiba clan from the village of Mzevo, Transkei. His father was a principal counselor to the Acting King of the Thembu people. The 12 years old Mandela lost his father and became a ward of the Acting King. From that time on he also dreamed of making his contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.
Despite the fact that education was utmost important to Mandela, he had his difficulties finishing his degrees. He did not complete his first degree at the University College of Fort Hare, they expelled him for joining in a student protest around 1939. After working as a mine security officer and a clerk of an attorney’s office, Mandela completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943. He began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission, he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating. However, it is an interesting fact, that Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo back in 1952.
He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962. Mandela did not complete that degree either. In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.
Mandela was politically active from the age of 24, joined the African National Congress in 1944 where he helped form the Youth League. He took a major role in the campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws in 1952.
His political activity raised controversy. In 1952 the court banned him for the first time, in 1956 he took part in the Treason Trial. Mandela has also been detained in 1960, during the state of emergency. He was charged and imprisoned for leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike in 1962. He faced a 5 years sentence. In 1964 while facing death sentence on the Rivonia Trial for sabotage he gave a speech which became immortalized.
His famous “Speech from the Dock” and his other quotes motivate, inspire and boost confidence in many to fight against inequality and injustice.
25 Nelson Mandela Quotes to Inspire and Motivate:
1.“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
2. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
3. “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” – Nelson Mandela
4. “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
5. “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
6.“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
7. “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
8. “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.” – Nelson Mandela
9. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” – Nelson Mandela
10. “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
11. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela
12. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
13. “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. 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. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” – Nelson Mandela
14. “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.” – Nelson Mandela
15. “I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” – Nelson Mandela
16. “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.” – Nelson Mandela
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17. “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
18. “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
19. “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
20. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.” – Nelson Mandela
21. “You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” – Nelson Mandela
22. “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Nelson Mandela
23. “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
24. “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
25. “I am the captain of my soul.” – Nelson Mandela