Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, South Africa. His full name is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, but he also goes by the name Madiba. When he was president of South Africa (1994–99), he was the first black person to be in charge.
President F.W. de Klerk and Nelson talked about ending South Africa’s apartheid system in the early 1990s, which led to the end of racial segregation and a peaceful change to majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk shared the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 because of their work. Keep scroll and read Nelson Mandela quotes for inspiration.
- “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” — Nelson Mandela
- “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela
- “There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.” — Nelson Mandela
- “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Those who conduct themselves with morality, integrity and consistency need not fear the forces of inhumanity and cruelty.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Men have different capacities and react differently to stress. But the stronger ones raised up the weaker ones, and both became stronger in the process.” — Nelson Mandela
- “One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.” — Nelson Mandela
- “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela
- “The brave man is not the one who has no fears, he is the one who triumphs over his fears.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Nothing is black or white.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.” — Nelson Mandela
- “I am the captain of my soul.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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.” — Nelson Mandela
- “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Know your enemy — and learn about his favorite sport.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Appearances matter — and remember to smile.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Quitting is leading too.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “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
- “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.” — Nelson Mandela
- “When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” — Nelson Mandela
- “We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.” — Nelson Mandela
- “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.” — Nelson Mandela
- “It is not where you start but how high you aim that matters for success.” — Nelson Mandela
- “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer.” — Nelson Mandela
- “I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now and will do so until the end of my days.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Let your greatness blossom.” — Nelson Mandela
- “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.” — Nelson Mandela
- “We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” — Nelson Mandela
- “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” — Nelson Mandela
- “There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.” — Nelson Mandela
- “I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.” — Nelson Mandela
- “I never lose. I either win or learn.” — Nelson Mandela
- “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.” — Nelson Mandela
- “In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” — Nelson Mandela
- “I learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonoring them.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Although I am a gregarious person, I love solitude even more.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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.” — Nelson Mandela
- “Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.” — Nelson Mandela
- “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
- “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” — Nelson Mandela
Table of Contents
Nelson Mandela Biography
Before he went to prison, Mandela spent a lot of time on Robben Island. After that, he spent time in jail at Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. In 1990, President F. W. De Klerk freed him because of growing pressure from both inside and outside South Africa, as well as fears of a racial civil war. Mandela and de Klerk worked together to end apartheid and set up the 1994 multiracial general election, which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became President of South Africa. Mandela led a broad coalition government that wrote a new constitution and set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to look into human rights abuses that happened in the past. Nelson Mandela quotes are also very popular among the young generation to get motivation.
Many people didn’t like him for a long time. Critics on the right said he was a communist terrorist, and those on the radical left thought he was too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters. But he was praised around the world for his activism. He is respected very much in South Africa, where he is called “Madiba” and called the “Father of the People.” On December 5, 2013, he died.
Childhood and school life
He was born on July 18, 1918, in the small village of Mvezo on the banks of the Mbashe River in Transkei, South Africa. “Rolihlahla” in the Xhosa language means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but it also means “troublemaker.” A dispute with the colonial magistrate led to the loss of both his title and money. His father, who was going to be the next chief, served as an advisor to tribal leaders for a long time. Mandela was just a baby at the time, and his father lost a lot of power. His mother had to move the family to Qunu, a smaller village north of Mvezo, to live with them.
He went to a Methodist mission school next to the palace where he learned English, Xhosa, history, and geography. As he listened to the stories of old visitors to the palace, he fell in love with African history. He was also influenced by the anti-imperial rhetoric of a visiting chief named Joyi. At the time, he didn’t see the European colonialists as oppressors, but as people who had brought education and other things to southern Africa. When he was 16, he, Justice, and a group of other boys went to Tyhalarha to have their circumcisions, which signified the transition from boys to men. After that, he was given the name Dalibunga. He went to the University of Fort Hare and the University of the Witwatersrand to study law. He worked as a lawyer in Johannesburg before going to law school.
Mandela was married three times, the first of which was Evelyn Ntoko Mase, who was born in 1902. (m. 1944-1957). Their four children were Madiba Thembekile, Makgatho (who died in 2005), Makaziwe, and Maki, and they all lived together. Mandela married Winnie Madikizela in 1958. They had two daughters together, Zenani and Zindziswa, before they broke up in 1996. He married Graca Machel two years later. They were together until his death in 2013.
He became more aware of the racial inequality and injustice that non-white people had to deal with while he was at university. At the end of 1943, he decided to join the ANC and fight against apartheid. Nelson Mandela was in high demand because he was one of the few qualified lawyers. Also, because he was so dedicated to the cause, he rose through the ranks of the ANC. Several members of the ANC were arrested and charged with treason in 1956. Nelson Mandela was one of them, as well.
After a long and drawn-out court case, the defendants were finally found not guilty in 1961. When Nelson Mandela said he wanted to do something about the apartheid regime with guns, the ANC had been banned. He was the first black president of South Africa. During his time in prison, Mandela became more and more well-known around the world. To bring about the change from minority rule and apartheid to full control by all black people, he worked to bring about the change People all over the world learned about the country of South Africa for the first time in 1995 when they held the Rugby World Cup.
Nelson Mandela stepped down as President of South Africa in 1999, and Thabo Mbeki took his place. In his later years, he had to stop going out in public because of his health. However, he did speak out about some things. In 2001, Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer, and he is still alive. For the first time, at the age of 85 in June of 2004, he announced that he was giving up public life and going back to his home village of Qunu.
He also worked for peace and equality at the national and global level, and in his later years, Mandela stayed focused on the fight against AIDS, which killed his son Makgatho in 2005. He made his last public appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In his later years, he stayed out of the public eye, choosing to spend most of his time in his childhood home of Qunu, south of Johannesburg. He did, however, meet with Michelle Obama, the wife of President Barack Obama, while she was in South Africa in 2011 for a trip.
Death and Legacy
He was briefly taken to the hospital with a respiratory infection in February 2011. In December 2012, he was taken back to the hospital for a lung infection and gallstone removal. Before the end of March 2013, his lung infection came back, and he was briefly hospitalised in Pretoria. In June 2013, his lung infection got worse, and he had to be taken back to a Pretoria hospital in a very bad condition. Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was born in 1918. Released: “Wherever we are at home and wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society where no one is exploited or oppressed by anyone else,” he said. For many years to come, Nelson Mandela will be a source of inspiration for people who work for civil rights all over the world.