10 Inspiring Quotes to Celebrate International Nelson Mandela Day

In 2013 the world lost Nelson Mandela, a man whom for many remains a symbol of triumph over adversity, a truth seeker, and a model of courage.

Today, Friday July 18, is the annual International Nelson Mandela Day where we celebrate the man’s contribution to not just ending apartheid in South Africa, but other facets of his legacy like his participating in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Below are 10 quotes (and a few bonus ones) that illustrate why Mandela has become such an icon for global development and peace.

1. Mandela On Education:

education

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

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

2. Mandela on What it Means to be Free:

freedom

Photo Credit: Alan Levine/Flickr

“The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. 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. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”

3. Mandela on No One Being Born a Hater:

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“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 the opposite.”

4. Mandela on Diversity and Democracy:

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“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.”

5. Mandela on the Opportunity of Failure:

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Photo Credit: Efren/Flickr

“If our expectations, if our fondest prayers and dreams, are not realized then we should all bear in mind that the greatest glory of living lies not in never falling but in rising every time you fall.”

6. Mandela on the Divide Between the Rich and Poor

Occupy Wallstreet

Photo Credit: Paul Stein/Flickr

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.”

7. Mandela on the Need to Recognize and Fight HIV/AIDS:

“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.”

8. Mandela on Dealing With Fear:

“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.”

And this rather pithy but similar quote suggests much the same:

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

9. Mandela on Not Holding Grudges:

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Photo Credit: DFID/Flickr

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

10. Mandela on Poverty:

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While Nelson Mandela specifically mentions South Africa in this, our final quote, it clearly should apply to every nation across the world, including the United States:

“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.”

For information on how you can walk in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps and become a force for change, please click here.

Photo credit: South Africa The Good News

79 comments

Caroline d.
CarolineIssues d.about a year ago

"Don't judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again."
Thank you so much, Steve, for sharing these so wise Mandela's quotes !
I save this as a pdf !
Be all blessed as all your loved ones.

Caroline d.
CarolineIssues d.about a year ago

"Don't judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again."
Thank you so much, Steve, for sharing these so wise Mandela's quotes !
I save this as a pdf !
Be all blessed as all your loved ones.

Caroline d.
CarolineIssues d.about a year ago

"Don't judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again."
Thank you so much, Steve, for sharing these so wise Mandela's quotes !
I save this as a pdf !
Be all blessed as all your loved ones.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Awesome, thanks

Shalvah Landy
Past Member 2 years ago

Berny p. The shame is that you find it appropriate to disrespect a person we are honouring by commenting negatively about something not his doing!

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rush2 years ago

Without a doubt, he was a very wise man.

Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan2 years ago

A great man, a true human, a legend in our times !

Taylor Story
Taylor Story2 years ago

I really love a lot of these quotes.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn

A great man!

Patricia Guilhem
Patricia Guilhem2 years ago

De très belles citations d' un grand homme. Hélas, si peu de gens vivent avec cette façon de pensée. Il y a tant à faire dans notre monde, tant de violence, de racisme, d' intolérance, de préjugés, de douleurs, de pauvreté, d' indifférence, d' inégalité, de destruction.....Le chemin vers un monde meilleur est encore long, très long. Essayons de ne pas perdre courage.