Quotations from Nelson Mandela, drawn from speeches posted on his foundation's Internet site (

» READ MORE: www.nelsonmandela.org


On human solidarity

"As the years progress one increasingly realizes the importance of friendship and human solidarity. And if a ninety-year-old may offer some unsolicited advice on this occasion, it would be that you, irrespective of your age, should place human solidarity, the concern for the other, at the centre of the values by which you live. " - Lecture in Kliptown, Soweto on July 12, 2008.

On poverty

"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."

- Speech delivered in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.

On South Africa, a decade after the fall of apartheid

"Today we are a nation at peace with itself, united in our diversity, not only proclaiming but living out the contention that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. We take our place amongst the nations of the world, confident and proud in being an African country."

- Lecture in Cape Town, Sept. 10, 2004.

On his retirement from public life at the age of 85

"One of the things that made me long to be back in prison was that I had so little opportunity for reading, thinking and quiet reflection after my release. I intend, amongst other things, to give myself much more opportunity for such reading and reflection."

- Statement in Johannesburg, June 1, 2004.


"HIV/AIDS is the greatest danger we have faced for many, many centuries. HIV/AIDS is worse than a war. It is like a world war. Millions of people are dying from it."

- Statement issued in Johannesburg, Dec. 1, 2000.

On his government's achievements during his presidency

"We have laid the foundation for a better life. Things that were unimaginable a few years ago have become everyday reality. I belong to the generation of leaders for whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge."

- Speech to Parliament in Cape Town, March 26, 1999.

On apartheid rule

"We are extricating ourselves from a system that insulted our common humanity by dividing us from one another on the basis of race and setting us against each other an oppressed and oppressor. That system committed a crime against humanity."

- Speech in Pretoria upon receipt of a report from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid-era atrocities. Oct. 29, 1998.

On racism

"Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods."

- Address to the UK's Joint Houses of Parliament, July 11, 1996.