Nelson Mandela is man who went from prisoner to
president to world icon. He gave up his freedom
to free the people of South Africa from apartheid.
Here are some of his own words about his extraordinary
life, excepted from the film Madiba: the life and
times of Nelson Mandela.
About his opposition to apartheid:
"I had no epiphany. No singular
revelation, no moment of truth but a steady accumulation
of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a
thousand unremembered moments produced in me an
anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system
that imprisoned my people."
"They were like a grave. Beautiful outside,
full of evil inside. That is why I despised them,
that's why I fought them."
His address at the Rivonia treason trial:
"I have fought against white
domination and I have fought against black domination.
I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free
society in which all persons will live together
in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an
ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized,
but my Lord, if it needs be it is an ideal for which
I am prepared to die." (Read the entire
Rivonia trial speech
His time on Robben Island:
"I was now on the sidelines
but I knew that I would not give up the fight...the
racism and repression was the same. Prison conspires
to rob each man of his dignity, but that assured
my survival because I would not part with my dignity
at any price or under any pressure. I never believed
that I would die behind bars. I always knew that
someday I would walk in the sunshine a free man.
I would not and could not give myself up to despair,
that way lay defeat and death."
"My solitude gave me a certain
liberty. And a resolve to use it to do something I
had been pondering for a long while. Begin discussions
with the government. It was clear to me a military
victory was a distant, impossible dream. It simply
did not make sense for both sides to lose thousands
if not millions of lives in a conflict that was unnecessary.
They must have known this as well. It was time to
Describing the day of his release from prison:
"The cameras started clicking
like a great herd of metallic beasts. I raised my
right fist and there was a roar. I had not been able
to do that for 27 years and it gave me a surge of
strength and joy.
On his personal life:
"Perhaps I was blinded to
certain things because of the pain I felt for not
being able to fulfill my role as husband to my wife
and father to my children. It seems the destiny of
freedom fighters to have unstable personal lives ...
to be the father of a nation is a great honour, but
to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But
is was a job I had far too little of."
Reconciliation in South Africa:
"I had never lost hope that
this great transformation would occur, because I always
knew that down deep in every human heart there is
mercy and generousity. No one is born hating another
person because of the colour of his skin or his background
or his religion. If people can learn to hate they
can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally
to the human heart than its opposite."
"If we don't forgive them then that feeling of
bitterness and offence will be there. And we are saying
let us forget the past. Let's concern ourselves with
the present and the future. But to say the atrocities
of the past will never be allowed to happen again."
"If I had to live again, I would do exactly
the same thing, as long as our people are oppressed
and deprived of everything to make human beings
happy and to enjoy life, it was my duty to be involved
and I would do it over and over again."
READ a complete selection
of speeches, statements and writings of Nelson Mandela
at the ANC website. More
READ excerpts from
Nelson Mandela's autobiography, The Long Walk to