Nelson Mandela is regarded the world over as one of history’s most inspirational figures. In every language and every country, Mandela’s legacy shines as a beacon of hope and healing, and as a potent reminder of the power of the human spirit to overcome impossible odds.
Mandela, like Gandhi before him, was an ardent believer in the equal rights and potential of people of all origins and backgrounds. His courage in the face of oppression stands as an example of the power of passion and perseverance to change the world. Nelson Mandela was nearly executed for opposing the South African government’s segregationist policies, and he spent 27 years of his life in prison for fighting to dismantle the country’s apartheid regime. Yet far from letting himself be broken or succumb to bitterness, when he was finally released in 1990, his sole focus was on healing his country’s divisions and bringing old enemies together to rebuild in common cause.
Mandela possessed an unshakeable belief in the power of empathy, honesty and dialogue to heal the deepest and most intractable wounds. His magnanimity towards his former oppressors won the admiration of South Africans and people around the world, and greatly eased his country’s transition to democracy. His lifelong pursuit of racial peace and reconciliation earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 — and the next year, Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, in a momentous election that for the first time allowed South Africans of all ethnic origins to vote.
Mandela’s vision of a “rainbow nation” is more relevant today than it’s ever been, and his commitment to building bridges across the chasms that divide us holds a message that humanity has never needed more.
Here are our Top 30 Nelson Mandela Quotes to Inspire You to Believe — in your own capacity for greatness, and in your power to change the world.
Top 30 Nelson Mandela Quotes to Inspire You to Believe
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.
Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.
One of the most difficult things is not to change society — but to change yourself.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.
Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
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.
Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
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.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
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.
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.
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 its opposite.
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
When people are determined they can overcome anything.
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.
I never lose. I either win or learn.
Your playing small does not serve the world. Who are you not to be great?
Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.
There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.
It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.
Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.
Fools multiply when wise men are silent.
You can start changing our world for the better daily, no matter how small the action.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
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