Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

Nelson MandelaAP

  • Former South African President Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today, July 18.
  • He passed away in December 2013 at 95 years of age.
  • Mandela was well-known for his pithy quotes and inspirational speeches.


Former South African President Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today, July 18. After a remarkable life on the global stage, Madiba (a title of respect from his Xhosa clan name) passed away in December 2013 at 95 years of age.

Born a Xhosa in the Thembu royal family, he studied as a lawyer before joining the political fight against the government's nationalist as a member of the African National Congress (ANC). He co-founded its Youth League in 1944. After apartheid was introduced four years later, Mandela led peaceful protests in opposition to the policy before shifting his focus to militancy and bombings in the early 1960s, which led to his arrest and life imprisonment in 1962.

Eighteen of the 27 years he spent behind bars were served on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town. His continued detention became the focus of a global campaign for his release until, eventually, he walked free on February 2, 1990.

Elected president of South Africa in May 1994, he spent more than five years in office before stepping down in 1999, not before being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

His battle against his country's apartheid regime was testament to his courage, resilience, humility, and forgiveness, and it earned him a place in history as one of the 20th century's greatest and most inspiring people.

Here are 24 things Madiba said that offer a guide to ensuring a life well lived.

This article was adapted from an original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2018. Follow Business Insider Australia on Twitter.

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Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"Where you stand depends on where you sit."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

Speaking about AIDS at the 46664 concert in Norway, 2005, Mandela said: "When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?"

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"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."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"The values of human solidarity that once drove our quest for a humane society seem to have been replaced, or are being threatened, by a crass materialism and pursuit of social goals of instant gratification," said Mandela during the 5th Steve Biko lecture, 2004. "One of the challenges of our time, without being pietistic or moralistic, is to re-instil in the consciousness of our people that sense of human solidarity, of being in the world for one another and because of and through others."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

During the Soweto address, 2008, Mandela said: "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"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," from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1995).

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

In a letter to Winnie Mandela, he said: "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"Man's goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished," he said during a speech in Cape Town, 1990.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles," he said in his unpublished autobiographical manuscript, 1975.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion," from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1995).

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

During his address for the Make Poverty History campaign, 2005, Mandela said: "Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"Those who conduct themselves with morality, integrity and consistency need not fear the forces of inhumanity and cruelty," he said during the British Red Cross Humanity Lecture in 2003.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die," said during his speech from the dock following his 1964 trial.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"Mr Fraser, is Donald Bradman still alive?" said to former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, when visited by him in Pollsmoor jail, 1986.

Later, Mr Fraser presented him with a signed bat from The Don, inscribed: "To Nelson Mandela, in recognition of a great unfinished innings."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"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," from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1995).

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear," from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1995).

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"You sharpen your ideas by reducing yourself to the level of the people you are with, and a sense of humour and a complete relaxation, even when you're discussing serious things, does help to mobilise friends around you. And I love that," he said in 2006 during an interview for "Mandela: The Authorised Portrait".

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"Let it never be said by future generations that indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us fail to live up to the ideals of humanism which the Nobel Peace Prize encapsulates," from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1993.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones," from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1995).

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do," he said in a letter to Makhaya Ntini on his 100th cricket test, 2009.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"It always seems impossible until it's done."

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man," said during a speech in mitigation after being convicted of inciting strikes and leaving the country illegally, 1962.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"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," said during a documentary interview, 1994.

Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today - here are 24 of his most timeless quotes

"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," said during his address at Walter Sisulu's 90th birthday celebrations, 2002.

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