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Top 50 Best Inspiring Nelson Mandela Quotes

Nelson Mandela smiling

Nelson Mandela Quotes: Nelson 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 institutionalized 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.

Common Questions about Nelson Mandela

What is the greatest wealth of a country according to Nelson Mandela?

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When and where was Nelson Mandela born?

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, also known as Madiba, was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, South Africa

What publications did Nelson Mandela write?

Nelson Mandela’s writings included I Am Prepared to Die (1964; rev. ed. 1986); No Easy Walk to Freedom (1965; updated ed. 2002); The Struggle Is My Life (1978; rev. ed. 1990); In His Own Words (2003); and Long Walk to Freedom (1994), which chronicles his early life and years in prison. Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years (2017), 

Our Favorite Nelson Mandela Quotes

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

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

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

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

“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.”

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“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

“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. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

“I am the captain of my soul.”

“Appearances matter — and remember to smile.”

“Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

“One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.”

“A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it's lowest ones”

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“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”

“Courage is not the absence of fear — it s inspiring others to move beyond it.”

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

“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.”

“One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.”

“Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.”r

“Nothing is black or white.”

“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.”

“In my country we go to prison first and then become President. ”

“Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport.”

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

“There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

“It is not where you start but how high you aim that matters for success.”

“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”

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation”

“I am not an optimist, but a great believer of hope.”

“Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savor their songs.”

“Quitting is leading too.”

“Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?”

“We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

“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... Man's goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

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