I have read most ‘adult’ books on Nelson Mandela, and my favorite is Conversations with Myself. I have found him deeply inspiring. His mind was truly a beautiful thing and it is not difficult to see the reason why he rose to such great heights even after falling to such low depths.
“Through three decades in prison, he remained true to his principles and belief in the face of all pressures and temptation.”
From what I have read about him, whenever I think about a person with ‘true integrity’, Nelson Mandela comes to my mind. He was a man of quiet courage, which was fierce and well-directed. He truly saw the best in everyone.
Nelson Mandela whose Xhosa name, Rolihlahla, means ‘troublemaker’ (literally: ‘pulling the branch of a tree’), was a soul birthed to be like an undying star. He was born in a tiny village on the banks of the Mbashe River in the district of Umtata but grew up to pull down a big branch from the tree of racism and oppression. From a humble beginning to a world leader, his name will live for all eternity.
Here are Ten great quotes by Nelson Mandela.
1. On making a difference, from, “Nelson Mandela by Himself: The Authorized Book of Quotations”
“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.”
2. On Solitude, from his memoir, “Conversations with Myself”.
“Incidentally, you may find that the cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the processes of your own mind and feelings. In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. These are, of course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these. But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within the reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life. Development in matters of this nature is inconceivable without serious introspection, without knowing yourself, your weaknesses and mistakes. At least, if for nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you. Regular meditation, say of about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be fruitful in this regard. You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner that keeps on trying.”
3. On leadership, from “Mandela: The Authorised Biography”.
“A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go on ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
4. On racism, from his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.
“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.”
5. On Patience, from “Mandela: The Authorised Biography”.
“Sow seeds, and then watch, cultivate, and harvest the result.”
6. On Fear, from “Mandela: The Authorised Biography”.
“Once you have rid yourself of the fear of the oppressor and his prisons, his police, his army, there is nothing that they can do. You are liberated. You don’t want to be assaulted, you don’t want to be hurt, and you feel the pain and humiliation. But nevertheless, you feel that this is the price you have to pay in order to assert your view, your ideas.”
7. On freedom, from his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.
“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.”
8. On courage, from his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear myself more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
9. On his parents, from his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”.
“Although my mother was the center of my existence, I defined myself through my father.”
10. On death, in an interview for the Academy award-nominated 1996 documentary Mandela
“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.”