Nelson Mandela

(Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela)

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
  • Born: July 18, 1918
  • Died: December 5, 2013
  • Nationality: South African
  • Profession: Activist, Politician, Philanthropist, Lawyer









Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 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 President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Joe Matthews Mandela always came forward and presented himself as a leading figure in the ANC. He ignored office as the criterion of leadership and very often he did and said things which should have been said by those who held office. Yet, he would say it. It was perhaps a kind of supreme confidence. I don't know if one could call it arrogance, but he was very confident, maybe over confident in himself. He was regarded as fearless. It was known that he was fearless as a person. He was always ready to volunteer to be the first to do something, anything that had to be done, Mandela would volunteer to do it.
Rob Anders He was a Communist. He was a terrorist...
Enuga Sreenivasulu Reddy No prisoner in history – in fact, no individual in history - has received so many honors and so much recognition all over the world as Nelson Mandela.
Charles Villa Vicencio A leader is someone who is always a step ahead of his people … but never more than one step … always close enough in order to understand his people and for his people to understand and feel him.
Larry L. King When Nelson Mandela came into the room, he changed the room.
Bill Clinton Come look at the television. Nelson Mandela is being released from prison in South Africa. This is the most important event in your lifetime.
Barack Obama I cannot imagine my life without the example that Nelson Mandela set.
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
Bill Clinton Nelson Mandela proved that an great heart is better than a closed mind.
Anonymous Black Pimpernel
Verashni Pillay True leadership—the sort of visionary leadership that Mandela is famed for—leaves a legacy that outlasts the originators mortal flesh.
Quote Topics Cited
A movement without a vision is a movement without moral foundation. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged. History
A wide gap still exists between the mass democratic movement and your party with regard to the method of attaining those values, but your commitment to a non-racial democracy in a United South Africa has won you many friends in the extra-parliamentary movement. Freedom & Liberty
Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing, and not work which the government declares them to be capable of. Africans want to live where they obtain work, and not be chased out of an area because they were not born there. Africans want to own land in places where they work, and not be obliged to live in rented houses which they can never call their own. We want to be part of the general population, and not confined to living in ghettos. African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men’s hostels. African women want to be with their menfolk and not be left permanently widowed in the reserves. We want to travel in our own country and to seek work where we want to and not where the Labour Bureau tells us to. We want a just share in the whole of South Africa; we want security and a stake in society. Above all we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
At the end of the day, violence was the only weapon that would destroy apartheid. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
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 which I am prepared to die for. Freedom & Liberty
Every political organization has a right to exist and to advocate its own point view. Political Parties & Machines
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. Freedom & Liberty
Freedom would be meaningless without security in the home and in the streets. Freedom & Liberty
Government violence can only do one thing and that is to breed counter-violence. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
I have great respect for British political institutions. I regard the British Parliament as the most democratic institution in the world, and the independence and impartiality of its judiciary never fail to arouse my admiration. Democracies & Republics
I’m not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying. Leaders & Leadership
If I continue to be bitter, then I am still in jail. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
If the oppressor uses peaceful means, the oppressed will never resort to violence. But if the oppressor uses violence, then the oppressed have no other alternative than violence—to retaliate with similar forms. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
It is not easy to talk about peace to people who are mourning every day. War & Peace
It is not the kings and generals that make history, but the masses of the people. History
It is not true that enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division based on color is entirely artificial and when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another. Voters, Voting & Elections
It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division based on color is entirely artificial and when it disappears, so will the domination of one color by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism; when it triumphs, it will not change that policy. Voters, Voting & Elections
Let me assure you that the ANC [African National Congress] is not an enemy of private enterprise …. We are aware that the investor will not invest unless the security of that investment is assured. The rates of economic growth that we seek cannot be achieved without important inflows of foreign capital. We are determined to create the necessary climate that the foreign investor will find attractive. Business, Commerce & Finance
Only free men can negotiate: prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. Negotiating & Negotiations
Peace and democracy go hand in hand.. Defense & National Security
Please, join the modern world. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Prosecute? I am not interested in prosecuting. I am interested in building a nation. Justice & Injustice
Resentment is the poison we drink, hoping it will hurt others. Human Nature
Service to others is the rent you pay for space on earth. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
Take your guns, your knives, and your pangas, and throw them into the sea. Close down the death factories. End this war now. War & Peace
The Communists were the only ones who helped us at the beginning of our struggle. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The deepening political crisis in our country has been a matter of grave concern to me for quite some time, and I now consider it necessary in the national interest for the African National Congress and the government to meet urgently to negotiate an effective political settlement. Two central issues will have to be addressed at such a meeting: firstly, the demand for majority rule in a unitary state; secondly, the concern of white South Africa over this demand, as well as the insistence of whites on structural guarantees that majority rule will not mean domination of the white minority by blacks. The most crucial task which will face the government and the ANC will be to reconcile these two positions. Management & Managing Government
The people are their own liberators. Freedom & Liberty
The struggle is my life Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
The struggle is my life. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what America is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending to the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms. United Nations
There is no easy walk to freedom. Freedom & Liberty
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered Miscellaneous
Unlike white people anywhere else in Africa, whites in South Africa belong here—this is their home. We want them to live here with us and to share power with us. States. Nations & Nationhood
We must forget the past. History
We want peace, standing on our feet, not on our knees. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people remains banned? What freedom am I being offered when I may be arrested on a pass offence?...What freedom am I being offered when I need a stamp in my pass book to seek work? What freedom am I being offered when my very South African citizenship is not respected? Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts… I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free. Freedom & Liberty
What right has the West, what right have the whites anywhere, to teach us about democracy when they executed those who asked for democracy during the time of the colonial era? Democracies & Republics
When 10 Blacks die in this country, Whites don't care. It is as if flies had died. Discrimination & Prejudice
Whenever we have sought real progress through affirmative action, the spokespersons of the advantaged have not hesitated to cry foul …. Development & Growth
Why do we put off till tomorrow the solutions that we can reach today? People cannot postpone their hunger. Similarly, they do not want their freedom postponed. Freedom & Liberty
Why is it that no African in the history of this country has ever had the honor of being tried by his own kith and kin, by his own flesh and blood? Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
You can’t build a united nation on the basis of revenge. States. Nations & Nationhood
You don’t address their brains. You address their hearts. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.
Africans require, want, the franchise on the basis of one man one vote. They want political independence.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
After one has been in prison, it is the small things that one appreciates: being able to take a walk whenever one wants, going into a shop and buying a newspaper, speaking or choosing to remain silent. The simple act of being able to control one's person.
Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. Life
As an attorney, I could be rather flamboyant in court. I did not act as though I were a black man in a white man's court, but as if everyone else - white and black - was a guest in my court. When trying a case, I often made sweeping gestures and used high-flown language.
As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.
At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect. I have done whatever I did because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said.
Before I went to jail, I was active in politics as a member of South Africa's leading organization - and I was generally busy from 7 A.M. until midnight. I never had time to sit and think. Time ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
By ancestry, I was born to rule.
Communists have always played an active role in the fight by colonial countries for their freedom, because the short-term objects of Communism would always correspond with the long-term objects of freedom movements. Freedom & Liberty
Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace. War & Peace
Does anybody really think that they didn't get what they had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment?
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Especially for those of us who lived in single cells, you had the time to sit down and think, and we discovered that sitting down just to think is one of the best ways of keeping yourself fresh and able, to be able to address the problems facing you, and you had the opportunity, also, of examining your past. Time
Even if you have a terminal disease, you don't have to sit down and mope. Enjoy life and challenge the illness that you have. Life
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. Freedom & Liberty
Forget the past. Moving On
From the beginning, Mandela and Tambo was besieged with clients. We were not the only African lawyers in South Africa, but we were the only firm of African lawyers. For Africans, we were the firm of first choice and last resort.
Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;War & Peace
I am confident that nobody... will accuse me of selfishness if I ask to spend time, while I am still in good health, with my family, my friends and also with myself. Time ;Health, Healthcare & Medicine ;Families, Children & Parenting
I came across few whites as a boy at Qunu. The local magistrate, of course, was white, as was the nearest shopkeeper. Occasionally, white travelers or policemen passed through our area. These whites appeared as grand as gods to me, and I was aware that they were to be treated with a mixture of fear and respect. Respect
I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel, within secure borders.
I cannot say for certain if there is such a thing as love at first sight, but I do know that the moment I first glimpsed Winnie Nomzamo, I knew that I wanted to have her as my wife. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I can't pretend that I'm brave and that I can beat the whole world.
I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.
I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. War & Peace
I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.
I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot.
I have been influenced in my thinking by both west and east.
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. Society ;Hope
I have retired, but if there's anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do. Morning
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.
I made a mistake by being ejected from the presidency. Next time, I will choose a Cabinet which will allow me to be life President. Life ;Time
I realized quickly what Mandela and Tambo meant to ordinary Africans. It was a place where they could come and find a sympathetic ear and a competent ally, a place where they would not be either turned away or cheated, a place where they might actually feel proud to be represented by men of their own skin color.
I really wanted to retire and rest and spend more time with my children, my grandchildren and of course with my wife. Time
I should tie myself to no particular system of society other than of socialism. Society
I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.
I started to make a study of the art of war and revolution and, whilst abroad, underwent a course in military training. If there was to be guerrilla warfare, I wanted to be able to stand and fight with my people and to share the hazards of war with them. War & Peace ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
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 was first imprisoned in Pretoria, and then, thereafter, I was taken to Robben Island. I stayed there for a couple of weeks. I was taken back to Pretoria when I was charged in the Rivonia trial, when I was then sent to Robben Island for life. Life
I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.
I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days. Life ;Freedom & Liberty
I would wear the blue overalls of the fieldworker and often wore round, rimless glasses known as Mazzawati teaglasses. I had a car, and I wore a chauffeur's cap with my overalls. The pose of chauffeur was convenient because I could travel under the pretext of driving my master's car. Travel
If the United States of America or Britain is having elections, they don't ask for observers from Africa or from Asia. But when we have elections, they want observers. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.
If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.
If you are poor, you are not likely to live long.
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.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. War & Peace ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In countries where innocent people are dying, the leaders are following their blood rather than their brains.
In the 1940s, traveling for an African was a complicated process. All Africans over the age of sixteen were compelled to carry 'Native passes' issued by the Native Affairs Department and were required to show that pass to any white policeman, civil servant, or employer. Failure to do so could mean arrest, trial, a jail sentence or fine. Failure
Intervention only works when the people concerned seem to be keen for peace. War & Peace
It always seems impossible until its done.
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. Leaders & Leadership
It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.
Leaders in all spheres who are living with HIV should be encouraged, not coerced, to lead by example and disclose their HIV status.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.
Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement. Freedom & Liberty
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. War & Peace ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Let us give publicity to H.I.V./AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of H.I.V./AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.
Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will. Success ;Freedom & Liberty ;Money, Coins & Minting
My son has died of AIDS.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another. History
No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.
Nonviolence is a good policy when the conditions permit.
On the first day of school, my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name and said that from thenceforth that was the name we would answer to in school. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.
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. Life
Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. Future ;Hope
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. Freedom & Liberty
People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that's how they'll react. But if you say, 'We want peace, we want stability,' we can then do a lot of things that will contribute towards the progress of our society. Society ;War & Peace
Prison life, fortunately, I spent a lot of years, about 18 years with other prisoners, and, as I say, they enriched your soul. Life
Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.
Sabotage did not involve loss of life, and it offered the best hope for future race relations. Bitterness would be kept to a minimum and, if the policy bore fruit, democratic government could become a reality. Life ;Hope
Sometimes, I feel like one who is on the sidelines, who has missed life itself. Life
The education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture, British institutions, were automatically assumed to be superior. There was no such thing as African culture. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The names of Dingane and Bambata, Hintsa and Makana, Squngthi and Dalasile, Moshoeshoe and Sekhukhuni, were praised as the glory of the entire African nation. I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle. Life ;Freedom & Liberty
The titanic effort that has brought liberation to South Africa, and ensured the total liberation of Africa, constitutes an act of redemption for the black people of the world.
The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate repercussions long after the decisions were taken.
There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty.
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 defenceless people. Government ;War & Peace
There are so many men and women who hold no distinctive positions but whose contribution towards the development of society has been enormous. Society ;Women
There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.
There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. Society
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. Death ;Freedom & Liberty
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. Life ;Motivation
There is no such thing as part freedom. Freedom & Liberty
There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a program that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources, those who are poor, illiterate, and ridden with terminal disease. Happiness & Unhappiness
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake.
We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. Time
We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.
Whatever position I occupied, it was the result of colleagues - of my comrades in the movement - who had decided in their wisdom to use me for the purpose of focusing the attention of the country and the international community on me.
When I came to Johannesburg from the countryside, I knew nobody, but many strangers were very kind to me. I then was dragged into politics, and then, subsequently, I became a lawyer. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.
Where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom. Freedom & Liberty
Without education, your children can never really meet the challenges they will face. So it's very important to give children education and explain that they should play a role for their country. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
You know, you can only lead them from behind.