Nelson Mandela in his Own Words

Nelson and Winnie Mandela, on Nelson's release from prison on 11 Feb. 1990
Nelson and Winnie Mandela, on Nelson’s release from prison on 11 Feb. 1990

I remember the day Nelson Mandela was freed from jail after 27 years of imprisonment.  It was on 11 February 1990.  This being a national holiday in Cameroon, we were all at home, and could watch live as Nelson Mandela was released from prison and walked hand in hand with Winnie Mandela, both with their fists raised high up.  Later that day, Mandela stood outside the balcony with his fist raised high up, and said: “Amandla!” to which the overjoyed crowd replied “Ngawethu!”, in other words, “Power to the People!” And he finished “iAfrika!”  I am leaving you here with some words by Mandela himself.

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“I raised my right fist and there was a roar.  I had not been able to do that for 27 years and it gave me a surge of strength and joy.” Describing the day of his release from prison in 1990 – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

I am fundamentally an optimist.  Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.  Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward 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 lays defeat and death.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Nelson Mandela ca 1955
Nelson Mandela ca 1955

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.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”  Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Madiba
Madiba

“I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There is no end and no beginning; there is only one’s own mind, which can begin to play tricks. Was that a dream or did it really happen? One begins to question everything. Did I make the right decision, was my sacrifice worth it? … But 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. On Prison – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Zindzi Mandela reading her father's refusal to leave prison - 1985
Zindzi Mandela reading her father’s refusal to leave prison – 1985

In the name of the law, I found myself treated as a criminal… not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of my conscience. No-one in his right senses would choose such a life, but there comes a time when a man is denied the right to live a normal life, when he can only live the life of an outlaw because the government has so decreed to use the law. … The question being asked up and down the country is this: Is it politically correct to continue preaching peace and non-violence when dealing with a government whose barbaric practices have brought so much suffering and misery to Africans? I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I, and you, the people, are not free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. I will return.Message read by his daughter, Zindzi Mandela, at a rally in Soweto in 1985.

It seems the destiny of freedom fighters to have unstable personal lives… to be the father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy.  But it was a job I had far too little of.”  Talking about fatherhood – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness…  The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” On prison – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Nelson Mandela raising the freedom fist
Nelson Mandela raising the freedom fist

The value of our shared reward will and must be measured by the joyful peace which will triumph, because the common humanity that bonds both black and white into one human race will have said to each one of us that we shall all live like the children of paradise…  But there are still some within our country who wrongly believe they can make a contribution to the cause of justice and peace by clinging to the shibboleths [dogmas] that have been proved to spell nothing but disaster.  It remains our hope that these, too, will be blessed with sufficient reason to realize that history will not be denied and that the new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged.” On receiving the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk, 1993.

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.”  Presidential Inauguration, 10 May 1994.

Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…  The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.  Let freedom reign.  God bless Africa!” Presidential inauguration, 10 May 1994.

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.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 - 05 Dec 2013)
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 05 Dec 2013)

I am confident that nobody … will accuse me of selfishness if I ask to spend time, while I am still in good health with my family, my friends, and also with myself.” On stepping down after his first term as president.

Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.” Message at the Live 8 Concert in Edinburgh, July 2005.

Nelson Mandela, Madiba, Our Freedom Fighter is no Longer

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

Words cannot quite express my sadness at the loss of Africa’s greatest man, and probably one of the world’s greatest icon: Nelson Rolihlahla MandelaJust to think that this man spent 27 years in jail so that we, Black people, could have rights, could have freedom, could be free to love, live, and work, is beyond amazing!  Yes… almost 3 decades, and more, since he did not really lead a ‘true’ family life because he spent most of his time pursuing his cause for the freedom of Blacks in South Africa.  What tribute could I possibly give for a man who spent most of his life fighting so that I, a Black child, could walk free in South Africa after our land was taken by the Boer invader, and we were beaten under oppressive laws?  What could I possibly say for a man who epitomizes true leadership, statesmanship, democracy, humility, and love… love in the face of so much hateBecause, for Nelson Mandela to make it, there were those like Steve Biko or Chris Hani who were killed by the apartheid system.  I would just like to say farewell Madiba… for you, I am a proud African child… Farewell Father Mandela, for you, I can roam the streets of South Africa free… Farewell Nelson, for you, I am free… because of you, I am a proud Black child, for you I am a proud African!

Nelson Mandela raising the freedom fist
Nelson Mandela raising the freedom fist

I live you with one of his quotes: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.”  Madiba, you have truly changed my life, and that of millions around the globe!  The world is a better place because you stepped on it!  So long… Madiba!

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.

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“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