There’s a lot that Nelson Mandela has said – before and after his 27-year incarceration. Of course, for those starved of the nonagenarian’s brand of quotable quotes, the best they have heard is his speech from the dock at the Rivonia Trial, on 20 April 1964.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live whytogether in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
This was Mandela at his lyrical best. The only written speech that has come close inside the ruling ANC and the country so far has been Thabo Mbeki’s anthemic I Am an African. But Madiba has touched our intellect with a lot more titbits.
In Nelson Mandela By Himself, his authorized book of quotations released in June 2011 by Pan Macmillan/PQ Blackwell, all Mandela has ever said outside his bedroom is showcased in all its intellectual glory.
“We pass through this world but only once and [the] opportunities you miss will never be available to you again.”
He could well have said this just yesterday, given today’s culture of entitlement, where everybody thinks the world owes them a favor and they need not lift a finger in bettering themselves.
An amateur boxer in his early years, he has this to say about pugilism: “I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it.”
In an August 1, 1970 letter to his then wife, Mother of the Nation at the time – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, he says the following about challenges: “I am convinced that floods of personal disaster can never drown a determined revolutionary nor can the cumulus of misery that accompanies tragedy suffocate him.”
This was Mandela, better than the world’s paid motivational speakers, dispensing this wisdom for free.
Here’s another gem still on challenges: “I approach every problem with optimism.”
Anything better is still in the head of the speaker! This is vintage Nelson Mandela. If you did not hear him speak or were not privy to his personal letters to Winnie, Nelson Mandela – By Himself is how you get into the loop. This is one for those who can neither speak nor write without invoking the wisdom of elder statesmen.
© makatilemedia 07/2011
- Book Review: Conversations with Myself (by Nelson Mandela)
- Book Review: The Children’s Mandela (by Tyne Doyle)
- Book Review: After Mandela: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa (by Alec Russell)
- Book Review: Nelson Mandela: A Biography (by Peter Limb)
- Book Review: Long Walk to Freedom (by Nelson Mandela)