As Johannesburg, South Africa hosts a huge memorial servicecelebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, I want to share with you 10 quotes from this wonderful, inspirational and most humble of men.
I first heard of Nelson Mandela, I’m ashamed to say,
when I first arrived in the UK in 1985 through this catchy song playing at my halls of residence bar at university:’ Free Nelson Mandela’ by The Special AKA. At that time, Mandela had been a prisoner on Robben Island for 21 years. He would later be released in 1990.
I absolutely loved this song and danced many nights away giving very little thought to the man for whom this song was dedicated.
28 years later, I have a far better understanding and deep appreciation for this man who symbolized an era of great hope, when equality and justice seemed possible, humility and supreme wisdom.
For me, these 10 quotes convey very clearly the greatness of this man who, whilst being a great leader and example of humility and tolerance, was above all a human being like the rest of us. But what a human being!
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
5. 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.
6. It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
7. If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
8. There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
9. A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
10. 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.
Thank you, Madiba, for the sacrifices you and your family made to make democracy and freedom a reality for so many people. I truly hope that the future generations will not let you down.