Former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is often quoted by both world leaders and the man in the street. Below are a number of such quotes.

“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 an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
“True, the struggle will be a bitter one. Leaders will be deported, imprisoned, and even shot. The government will terrorise the people and their people and their leaders in an effort to halt the forward march; ordinary forms of organisation will be rendered impossible. But the spirit of the people cannot be crushed…until full victory is won.”
“…I would like to emphasise the aims of our campaign over again. We are not in opposition to any government or class of people. We are opposing a system which has for years kept a vast section of the non-European people in bondage.
Though it takes us years, we are prepared to continue the campaign…”
“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.”
“I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience.”
“Why is it that in this courtroom I am facing a white magistrate, confronted by a white prosecutor, escorted by white orderlies? Can anybody honestly and seriously suggest that in this type of atmosphere the scales of justice are evenly balanced? I am a black man in a white man’s court. This should not be.”
“Too many have suffered for the love of freedom. I too cannot sell my birthright, nor am I prepared to sell the birthright of my people to be free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.”
“I stand before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today.

I therefore place the remaining yeas of my life in your hands.”
“Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. We call on all our people to seize the moment so that the process towards democracy is rapid and uninterrupted.
We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait. Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”
“We are going forward. I have spoken about freedom in my entire lifetime. Your struggles, your commitment and your discipline have released me to stand before you today. The basic principles will propel us to a free, non-racial, democratic, united South Africa that we have struggled and died for.”
“Since my release, I have become more convinced than ever that the real makers of history are the ordinary men and women of our country.
Their participation in every decision about the future is the only guarantee of true democracy and freedom.”
“It could have been that our own hearts had turned to stone. But we understood that the oppression dehumanises the oppressor as it hurts the oppressed. We understood that to emulate the barbarity of the tyrant would also transform us into savages. We knew that we would sully and degrade our cause if we allowed that it should, at any stage, borrow anything from the practices of the oppressor.”
“Change is as unsettling as it is painful. It cannot be any different because change is movement…At times of momentous developments, when societies reach their high noon, everything else becomes uncertain except for the golden gate that must be reached – the goal of freedom.”
“Ruth spent her life in the service of the people of southern Africa. She went to prison for her beliefs… Her life, and her death, remains a beacon to all who love liberty.”
“The convening of Codesa was like the parting of the waters, opening the way to the promised land of freedom beyond. It was a great victory for the people of South Africa, black and white.”
“And let there be no mistake: there have been many changes, and negotiations have started, but for the ordinary black person of this country, apartheid is alive and well.”
“Black lives are cheap, and will remain so as long as apartheid continues to exist.
Chris Hani championed the cause of peace, trudging to every corner of South Africa, calling for a spirit of tolerance among all out people.”
“Oliver lived not because he could breathe. He lived not because blood flowed through his veins… Oliver lived because he had surrendered his very being to the people. He lived because his very being embodied love, an idea, a hope, an aspiration, a vision.”
“At the southern tip of the continent, a rich reward is in the making, an invaluable gift is in the preparation, for those who suffered in the name of all humanity when they sacrificed everything – for liberty, peace, human dignity and human fulfillment.
The value of our shared reward will and must be measured by the joyful peace which will triumph, because of the common humanity that bonds both black and white into one human race, will have said to each one of us that we shall all live like the children of paradise.”  
“As a young man I decided to study the law with a view to using what little talent I had in the service of justice and the cause of my people. Like many before me and those of my generation. I entered legal practice with a determination to employ my skills and training to at least alleviate the suffering of the oppressed if not to reserve it.”
“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country, met people, spoken to children, the aged, everyone I could touch or see. Everyone seeks peace. Everyone seeks a better life. Everyone wants to work together.”

“The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
 Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!”

“And so we must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make our shared destiny.
…the purpose that will drive this government shall be the expansion of the frontiers of human fulfillment and the continuous extension of the frontiers of freedom.”

“Africa shed her blood and surrendered the lives of her children so that all her children could be free. She gave of her limited wealth and resources so that all of Africa should be liberated. She opened her heart of hospitality and her head so full of wise counsel, so that we shall emerge victorious. A million times, she put her hand to the plough that has now dug up the encrusted burden of oppression accumulated for centuries.
If freedom was the crown which the fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown.”


“Freedom should not be understood to mean leadership positions or even appointments to top positions. It must be understood as the transformation of the lives ordinary people in the hostels and the ghettos; in the squatter camps; on the farms and in the mine compounds.
It means constant consultation between leaders and members of their organisations; it demands of us to be in constant touch with the people, to understand their needs, hopes and fears; and to work together with them to improve their conditions.”

“Comrade Joe Slovo was one of those who taught us that individuals do not make history. Yet, in each generation there are a few individuals who are endowed with an acument and personal bearing which enables them to direct the course of events.”
“People come and go. Customs, fashions and preferences change. Yet the web of fundamental rights and justice which a nation proclaims must not be broken.”
“As we set about building a new South Africa, one of our highest priorities must be our children. The vision of a new society that guides us should already be manifest in the steps we take to address the wrong done to our youth and to prepare for their future. Our actions and policies, and the institutions we create, should be eloquent with care, respect and love.”
“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who care for and protect our people.”
“I waited over 70 years to cast my first vote. As the world held its breath, South Africans together made their mark to bring into being one of the truly remarkable events of this turbulent century. Once more, we affirmed a truism of human history: that the people are their own liberators.
I chose to do it near the grave of John Dube, the first President of the ANC, the African patriot that had helped found the organisation in 1912. I voted not only for myself alone but for many who took part in our struggle. I felt that with me when I voted were Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Chief Albert Luthuli and Bram Fischer. I felt that Josiah Gumede, GM Naicker, Dr Abdullah Abdurahman, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Yusuf Dadoo, Moses Kotane, Steve Biko and many others were there. I felt that each one of them held my hand that made the cross, helped me to fold the ballot paper and push it into the ballot box.”

“We, the people of South Africa, have made a decisive and irreversible break with the past. We have, in real life declared our shared allegiance to justice, non-racialism and democracy; our yearning for a peaceful and harmonious nation of equals.
The rainbow has come to be the symbol of our nation. We are turning the variety of our languages and cultures, once used to divide us, into a source of strength and richness.”

“For generations to come, the abiding image of a patient citizenry in long voting queues on 27 April 1994 will remain deeply etched in the collective memory of the nation.”
“Reconstruction goes hand in hand with reconciliation.”
“We give life to our nation’s prayer for freedom regained and a continent reborn.”
“I seem to arrive more firmly at the conclusion that my own life struggle has had meaning only because, dimly and perhaps incoherently, it has sought to achieve the supreme objective of ensuring that each, without regard to race, colour, gender or social status, could have the possibility to reach for the skies.”
“It was there in the hills and valleys of Qunu; in the rolling hills of KwaDlangezwa; in the Genadendal settlement; and along the Gariep, the Lekoa and the Luvuvhu rivers, that we first understood that we are not free.”
“Reconciliation is central to that vision that moved millions of men and women to risk all, including their lives, in the struggle against apartheid… It is inseparable from the achievement of a non-racial, democratic and united nation affording common citizenship, rights and obligations to each and every person, and respecting the rich diversity of our people.”
“You have walked along the road of the heroes and heroines. You have borne the pain of those who have known fear and learnt to conquer it…
You have had to convince your enemies to believe a story difficult to believe, because it was true, that your burnished spear glittered in the rays of the sun, not to speak of hatred and death from them, but because you prayed that its blinding brilliance would tell them, whose ears would not hear, that you loved them as your own kith kin.
After a long walk, we too have arrived at the starting point of a new journey. We have you, Madiba, as our nearest and brightest star to guide us on our way. We will not get lost.”
“Let us never be unmindful of the terrible past from which we come – using that memory not as a means to keeps us shackled to the past in a negative manner, but rather as a joyous reminder of how far we have come and how much we have achieved. My wish is that South Africans never give up on the belief in goodness, that they cherish that faith in human beings as a cornerstone of our democracy.”
“In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many. We signal that good can be achieved amongst human beings who are prepared to trust, prepared to belief in the goodness of people.”

“The people of Africa have learned the lessons of patience and endurance in their long struggle for freedom.
In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many. We signal that good can be achieved amongst human beings who are prepared to trust, prepared to belief in the goodness of people.”

“Those of us from that generation who are singled out to stay the longest, have to bear the pain of seeing our comrades go.
We shared the joy of living and the pain. We shared ideas, forged common commitments. We walked side by side through the valley of death…holding each other up when our steps faltered. And together we were privileged to savour the taste of freedom.”

“The struggle against apartheid became one of the foremost moral struggles of the 20th century. Like few other liberation struggles, it drew the support of people from the widest range of political persuasions across the world.” 

“The campaign against AIDS is the task of all of us – young and old, government and community organisations, religious and traditional institutions, cultural and sporting bodies.
AIDS knows no custom. It knows no colour. It knows no boundaries. We have to work together wherever we are to preserve our nation, our continent and humanity as a whole.
I gave permission for the use of my Robben Island prison number 46664 as a weapon against AIDS. I did so remembering how, in the long years on Robben Island, we never lost hope…” 

“When I was a boy brought up in my village in the Transkei, I listened to the elders of the tribe telling stories about the good old days, before the arrivals of the white man. I hoped and vowed then that, among the treasures that life might offer me, would be the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to freed struggle.”
“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”