Here are 10 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspirational quotes

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa (Ashim D’Silva, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Nelson Mandela would have been 101 today.

South Africa’s first black president, anti-Apartheid hero and Nobel laureate – known affectionately as Madiba and Tata – was born on 18 July and died in 2013, aged 95.

Every year since 2009, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has marked his birthday with Mandela Day, to carry on his work and inspire others to take action against poverty and change the world.

This year, for Mandela Day’s 10th anniversary, the Foundation has launched “The Next Chapter” to mobilize people, governments, civil society and companies to focus on five areas: education and literacy; food and nutrition; shelter; sanitation; and active citizenship.

The words of wisdom Madiba spoke throughout his life form part of his enduring legacy. Here are just 10 of his best quotes…

1. Be passionate

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

2. Nothing’s impossible

“It always seems impossible, until it is done.”

3. Lead from the back…

“Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.”

4. Make a difference

“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.”

5. Be optimistic

“I am fundamentally an optimist. 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.”

6. Learn and teach

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

7. Make mistakes

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

8. Don’t waste time

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

9. Choose your friends wisely

“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”

10. Love others

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour 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.”

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