Nelson Mandela seduced audiences with his wit, then often bludgeoned them with his observations. Here is a collection of some of his most memorable quotes: “No power on earth can stop an oppressed people determined to win their freedom” — June 1961.
“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” — at the Rivonia treason trial in April 1964, when he faced the possibility of a death sentence.
I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people” — On being released from prison in February 1990.
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.” — inauguration as President in May 1994.
“The award was a tribute to all South Africans and especially to those who fought in the struggle; I would accept it on their behalf” — on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1994.
“Late in life, I am blooming like a flower because of the love and support she has given me” — marrying Graca Machel in July 1998 at the age of 80.
“I step down with a clear conscience, feeling that I have in a small way done my duty to my people and my country” — retiring as president in May 1999.
“At least we have the right to get drunk… next time we will win” — after Germany pipped South Africa for the right to stage 2006 World Cup in July 2000.
“My bosses always say that I have had 27 years in prison to loaf. It is now time to do some catching up” — on life in retirement in November 2000.
“One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint” — he said in his latest book (2010) Conversations with Myself.
“The threat of death evoked no desire in me to play the role of martyr. I was ready to do so if I had to. But the anxiety to live always lingered” – on the risk of execution in Conversations with Myself.
“Our demand is for a non-racial society… We are fighting for a society where people will cease thinking in terms of colour… It’s not a question of race; it’s a question of ideas.” — passage from the book.
“What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” — about then-US President George W. Bush on the build-up to Iraq war in January 2003.
“We should take heart from our own experience and performance. In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many.” — last address to Parliament in May 2004.
“I can confirm that we are ready, able, willing and capable as well as passionate about hosting the World Cup” — during successful pitch for South Africa to host 2010 World Cup in May 2004.
“AIDS is a major problem to be tackled by the entire world. To deal with it requires resources far beyond the capacity of one continent. No single country has the capacity to deal with it.” — in his book Conversations with Myself.
“The ANC has the historical responsibility to lead our nation and help build a united non-racial society” — to ANC supporters in a pre-recorded message ahead of April 2009 elections.