Often described as Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela was – and remains – one of the most influential, highly respected, and remarkable men to have ever walked this planet.
Better known as Prisoner 466/64, he was imprisoned in 1964 in a damp concrete cell measuring 8 x 7 feet for the next 18 years at Robben Island. During his prison term, he was physically and verbally harassed by white prison wardens, and was even locked in solitary confinement for possessing smuggled newspaper clippings on a number of occasions.
An anti-apartheid movement revolutionary, he went on to serve as the first black President of South Africa, and received over 250 honors for his humanitarian work – including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
What makes Mandela one of the most inspirational people in history is that, despite all the difficulties he has experienced in his life, he has never given up on humanity. He has, instead, gone on to fight for a number of causes, including racism, HIV/AIDS, and human rights.
His words and his story have inspired and motivated millions and millions of people across the globe, and we have compiled a list of 20 of his best motivational quotes in tribute to one of the world’s greatest leaders.
See also: 20 Motivational Quotes by the Dalai Lama
- “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
- “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
- “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
- “Without education, your children can never really meet the challenges they will face. So it’s very important to give children education and explain that they should play a role for their country.”
- “Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”
- “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
- “I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.”
- “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”
- “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”
- “Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake.”
- “Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.”
- “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”
- “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”
- “I have retired, but if there’s anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do.”
- “There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.”
- “Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.”
- “Even if you have a terminal disease, you don’t have to sit down and mope. Enjoy life and challenge the illness that you have.”
See also: Best Motivational Quotes from Beyoncé
Have these Nelson Mandela quotes inspired you in any way? Do you think we missed out one of his best motivational quotes? Let us know in the comments section below!