Nelson Mandela Famous Speech: “I am prepared to die”

Nelson Mandela ca 1955
Nelson Mandela ca 1955

As South Africa‘s President Jacob Zuma opened an exhibition about the life of the country’s first black leader, Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg yesterday, I thought it befitting to remind you of this great speech by Nelson Mandela where he was prepared to give his life for South Africa, and for his cause. Enjoy! The integral speech can be found here: Nelson Mandela 1964 speech_I am prepared to die.


“I am the First Accused.
… At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion made by the State in its opening that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect.  I have done whatever I did, both as an individual and as a leader of my people, because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said….

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships … Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed. These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called ‘agitators’ to teach us about these things. …

… This struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.

Nelson Mandela clothed in a Pathe'O shirt
Nelson Mandela clothed in a Pathe’O shirt

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 is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Nelson Mandela – April 20, 1964

5 thoughts on “Nelson Mandela Famous Speech: “I am prepared to die”

  1. Comban

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  2. Pingback: Nadine Gordimer: South African First Literature Nobel is no Longer | African Heritage

  3. Hacran

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  4. Aiyana O

    First, may I site lines from the linked speech pdf? secondly, if that’s fine then how would I go about citing that in my research paper?


    1. Yes Aiyana… please feel free to cite it. Just use: “Nelson Mandela’s 1964 Speech: “I am prepared to die” given by Nelson Mandela on April 20, 1964, p. XX, as published on by Dr. Y., Nov. 2013


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