Nelson Mandela quotes 1 to 25

  1. In love, unlike politics, caution is not usually a virtue. I was neither confident enough to think I might succeed nor secure enough to bear the sense of failure if I did not. – Nelson Mandela (recalling his younger days when he didn’t dare to confess to a girl that he liked)
  2. Many people will appear to befriend you when you are wealthy, but precious few will do the same when you are poor. If wealth is a magnet, poverty is a repellent. Yet, poverty often brings out the true generosity in others.
  3. I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.
  4. But now the white man had felt the power of my punches and I could walk upright like a man, and look everyone in the eye with the dignity that comes from not having succumbed to oppression and fear. I had come of age as a freedom fighter.
  5. This was a significant achievement; for fear of prison is a tremendous hindrance to a liberation struggle. From the defiance campaign onward, going to prison became a badge of honor among Africans.
  6. After one has been to 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 actions.
  7. Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, colour and wealth are irrelevant. When you are circling your opponent, probing his strengths and weaknesses, you are not thinking about his colour or social status.
  8. When you question a man’s integrity, you can expect a fight.
  9. For my own part I have made my choice. 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.
  10. It is not pleasant to be arrested in front of one’s children, even though one knows that what one is doing is right. But children do not comprehend the complexity of the situation; they simply see their father being taken away by the white authorities without an explanation.
  11. Prison not only robs you of your freedom, it attempts to take away your identity. As a freedom fighter and as a man, one must fight against the prison’s attempt to rob one of these qualities.
  12. After a time in solitary, I relished the company even of the insects in my cell, and found myself on the verge of initiating conversations with a cockroach…Nothing is more dehumanizing than the absence of human companionship.
  13. This was one of the state’s most barbarous techniques of applying pressure: imprisoning the wives and children of freedom fighters. Many men in prison were able to handle anything the authorities did to them, but the thought of the state doing the same thing to their families was almost impossible to bear.
  14. One can be in extraordinarily intimate circumstances with someone for months, and then never see the person again. It is dehumanizing, for it forces one to adapt by becoming more self-contained and insulated.
  15. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.
  16. 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 they all along they are being directed from behind.
  17. I was prepared for the death penalty. To be truly prepared for something, one must actually expect it. One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.
  18. Men, I think, are not capable of doing nothing, of saying nothing, of not reacting to injustice, of not protesting against oppression, of not striving for the good society and the good life in the ways they see it.
  19. The human body has an enormous capacity for adjusting to trying circumstances. I have found that one can bear the unbearable if one can keep one’s spirits strong even when one’s body is being tested. Strong convictions are the secret of surviving deprivation; your spirit can be full even when your stomach is empty.
  20. When letters did arrive, they were cherished. A letter was like the summer rain that could make even the desert bloom.
  21. Change is gradual and incremental, and when one lives in the midst of one’s family, one rarely notices differences in them. But when one doesn’t see one’s family for many years at a time, the transformation can be striking.
  22. Prison was a kind of crucible that tested a man’s character. Some men, under the pressure of incarceration, showed mettle, while others revealed themselves as less than what they had appeared to be.
  23. There is nothing so encouraging in prison as learning that the people outside are supporting the cause for which you are inside.
  24. It was a useful reminder that all men, even the most seemingly cold-blooded, have a core of decency, and that if their heart is touched, they are capable of changing.
  25. I knew that accidents (killing of innocent civilians) were the inevitable consequence of the decision to embark on a military struggle. Human fallibility is always a part of war, and the price of it is always high.

NM41

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