67 things Nelson Mandela said that made the world a better place

67 things Nelson Mandela said that made the world a better place


Madiba spent 67 years of his life championing human rights of each and every one of us. His dedication to the service of humanity has brought together people from across the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation.

To commemorate the lifetime of years he devoted to us, here are 67 iconic Nelson Mandela quotes that, in my opinion, made the world a better place:


  1. “Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
  2. “If I had my time over I would do the same again.”
  3. “The people of Africa have learned the lessons of patience and endurance in their long struggle for freedom.”
  4. “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people.”
  5. “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
  6. “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.”
  7. “Freedom must be understood as the transformation of the lives of ordinary people.”
  8. “Everyone seeks peace. Everyone seeks a better life.”
  9. “My wish is that South Africans never give up on the belief in goodness.”
  10. “I am fundamentally an optimist.”
  11. The time is always ripe to do right.”
  12. “We, the people of South Africa, have made a decisive and irreversible break with the past.”
  13. “The people are their own liberators.”
  14. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
  15. “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere.”
  16. “The rainbow has come to be the symbol of our nation.”
  17. “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
  18. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
  19. “Reconciliation is central to that vision that moved millions of men and women to risk all.”
  20. “Difficulties break some men but make others.”


    Nelson Mandela Wall of Remembrance on Vilakazi Street, Soweto. Photo: Ulrich Janse van Vuuren / ONE

  21. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
  22. “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
  23. “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”
  24. “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”
  25. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
  26. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society.”
  27. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
  28. “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.”
  29. “When people are determined they can overcome anything.”
  30. “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”
  31. “Goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”
  32. “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”
  33. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
  34. “I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations.”
  35. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.”
  36. “We are not in opposition to any government or class of people. We are opposing a system which has for years kept a vast section of the non-European people in bondage.”
  37. “Teach children that Africans are not one iota inferior to Europeans.”
  38. “Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won.”
  39. “I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”
  40. “I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for.”
  41. “Too many have suffered for the love of freedom.”
  42. “I stand before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people.”
  43. “We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait.”
  44. “Our march to freedom is irreversible.”
  45. “We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”

    mandela-poster-final-600x440 (1)

    ONE Members from across the world submitted their pictures to build this very special Nelson Mandela photo mosaic for his 92nd birthday.

  46. “Since my release, I have become more convinced than ever that the real makers of history are the ordinary men and women of our country.”
  47. “To emulate the barbarity of the tyrant would also transform us into savages.”
  48. “Change is movement.”
  49. “Black lives are cheap, and will remain so as long as apartheid continues to exist.”
  50. “At the southern tip of the continent, a rich reward is in the making.”
  51. “As a young man I decided to study the law with a view to using what little talent I had in the service of justice and the cause of my people.”
  52. “The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.”
  53. “The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!”
  54. “Africa shed her blood and surrendered the lives of her children so that all her children could be free.”
  55. “Freedom should not be understood to mean leadership positions or even appointments to top positions.”
  56. “The web of fundamental rights and justice which a nation proclaims must not be broken.”
  57. “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built.”
  58. “I waited over 70 years to cast my first vote.”
  59. “I voted not only for myself alone but for many who took part in our struggle.”
  60. “We are turning the variety of our languages and cultures, once used to divide us, into a source of strength and richness.”
  61. “For generations to come, the abiding image of a patient citizenry in long voting queues on 27 April 1994 will remain deeply etched in the collective memory of the nation.”
  62. “Reconstruction goes hand in hand with reconciliation.”
  63. “We give life to our nation’s prayer for freedom regained and a continent reborn.”
  64. “Let us never be unmindful of the terrible past from which we come.”
  65. “In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many.”
  66. “One of our highest priorities must be our children.”
  67. “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”


Join the fight against extreme poverty


Join the fight against extreme poverty

By signing you agree to ONE’s privacy policy, including to the transfer of your information to ONE’s servers in the United States.

Do you want to stay informed about how you can help fight against extreme poverty?

Sign up to receive emails from ONE and join millions of people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. We’ll only ever ask for your voice, not your money. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Privacy options
Are you sure? If you select 'Yes' we can let you know how you can make a difference. You can unsubscribe at any time.

By signing you agree to ONE's privacy policy, including to the transfer of your information to ONE.org's servers in the United States.

You agree to receive occasional updates about ONE's campaigns. You can unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply