Nelson Mandela quotes 26 to 50

  1. ‘I kissed and held my wife for the first time in all these many years. It was a moment I had dreamed about a thousand times. It was as if I were still dreaming. I held her for what seemed like an eternity…It had been 21 years since I had even touched my wife’s hand.’
  2. ‘It was tremendously frustrating not to be able to touch my wife, to speak tenderly to her, to have a private moment together. We had to conduct our relationship at a distance under the eyes of people we despised (prison wardens).’
  3. ‘In order for a hunger strike to succeed, the outside world must learn of it. Otherwise, the prisoners will simply starve themselves to death and no one will know.’
  4. ‘I have always believed exercise is not only a key to physical health but to peace of mind. Exercise dissipates tension, and tension is the enemy of serenity. I found that I worked better and thought more clearly when I was in good physical condition. In prison, having an outlet for one’s frustrations was absolutely essential.’
  5. ‘It was absolutely riveting to watch the simple activities of people out in the world: old men sitting in the sun, women doing their shopping, people walking their dogs. It is precisely those mundane activities of daily life that one misses most in prison.’
  6. ‘In prison, one can only question and resist an order to a certain point, then one must succumb.’
  7. ‘A leader must also tend his garden, he, too plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the result. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.’
  8. ‘I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. 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 it’s opposite.’
  9. ‘But the decades of oppression and brutality had another unintended effect, and that was that it produced men of extraordinary courage, wisdom, and generosity that their like may never be known again. Perhaps it requires such depth of oppression to create such heights of character.’
  10. ‘Nonviolent passive resistance is effective as long as your opposition adheres to the same rules as you do. But if peaceful protest is met with violence, its efficacy is at an end.’
  11. ‘In life, every man has twin obligations – obligations to his family, to his parents, to his wife and children; and he has an obligation to his people, his community and his country.’
  12. ‘A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness.’
  13. ‘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 – and South Africa treated its imprisoned African citizens like animals.’
  14. ‘It is from these comrades in the struggle that I learned the meaning of courage. Time and again, I have seen men and women risk and give their lives for an idea. I have seen men stand up to attacks and torture without breaking, showing a strength and resiliency that defies the imagination.’
  15. ‘When your life is the struggle (for freedom), as mine was, there is little room left for family. That has always been my greatest regret, and the most painful aspect of the choice I made.’
  16. ‘I was prepared to tell the judge that I was prepared to die secure in the knowledge that my death would be an inspiration to the cause for which I was giving my life. My death would not be in vain; if anything we might serve the cause greater in death as martyrs than we ever could in life.’
  17. An appeal (for a shorter sentence) would undermine the moral stance we had taken. We had from the first maintained that what we had done, we had done proudly, and for moral reasons. We were not now going to suggest otherwise in an appeal.’
  18. ‘If you want to continue living in poverty without clothes and food, then go and drink in the shebeens (shop selling alcohol without a licence). But if you want better things, you must work hard. We cannot do it all for you; you must do it yourselves.’
  19. ‘The state was responsible for the violence and that is always the oppressor, not the oppressed, who dictates the form of the struggle. If the oppressor uses violence, the oppressed have no alternative but to respond violently.
  20. ‘But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb…But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.’
  21. ‘Prison life is about routine: each day like the day like the one before; each week like the one before it, so that the months and years blend into each other. Anything that departs from this pattern upsets the authorities, for routine is the sign of a well-run prison.’
  22. ‘The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’
  23. ‘Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards 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 lay defeat and death.’
  24. ‘Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music.’
  25. ‘It was this desire for the freedom of my people to live their lives with dignity and self-respect that animated my life, that transformed a frightened young man into a bold one, that drove a law-abiding attorney to become a criminal, that turned a family-loving husband into a man without a home, that forced a life-loving man to live like a monk.’


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