30+ Quotes by Nelson Mandela on Life & Freedom

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who served as the first black President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Quotes by Nelson Mandela on justice, equality, and human rights are a source of wisdom for many people.

Mandela’s words have inspired people all around the world, and his quotes continue to resonate with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. In this article, we will discuss some of the most famous quotes by Nelson Mandela and analyze their significance.

Quotes on Education

1. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Meaning: Education is a transformative force that empowers individuals to bring about positive change in the world. By acquiring knowledge and understanding, people can challenge existing norms, address social issues, and contribute to the betterment of society.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on Education

 2. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Meaning: Many endeavors may appear daunting or impossible at first glance, but with determination and perseverance, even the most challenging tasks can be accomplished. This quote encourages individuals to have faith in their abilities and reminds them that what may seem insurmountable can be overcome through persistent effort.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on success

3.  “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Meaning: True success and fulfillment come from the ability to rise above failures and setbacks. This quote emphasizes the importance of resilience and the willingness to learn from mistakes. It suggests that the true measure of one’s character lies in their ability to overcome adversity and continue moving forward.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on life

4.  “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Meaning: Holding onto resentment and harboring negative emotions only harms oneself, much like ingesting poison. This quote highlights the futility of holding grudges or seeking revenge, as it ultimately damages one’s own well-being. Instead, it encourages individuals to let go of resentment and focus on personal growth and happiness.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on resentment

5. “There is no passion for being found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes the importance of pursuing one’s passions and ambitions to their fullest extent. It encourages individuals not to settle for mediocrity or conform to societal expectations but to strive for greatness and live up to their true potential.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on passion

6.  “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

Meaning: This quote suggests that true reconciliation and harmony can be achieved by engaging with one’s adversaries rather than perpetuating conflict. By working together, former enemies can overcome their differences, build understanding, and transform their relationship into a mutually beneficial partnership.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on enemy

7.  “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Meaning: Effective communication requires understanding and adapting to the perspectives and cultural backgrounds of others. This quote underscores the significance of connecting with people on a deeper level by speaking their language, both figuratively and literally. It implies that communication that resonates emotionally fosters stronger connections and understanding.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on language

8.  “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”

Meaning: This quote highlights the essential qualities of perseverance and ambition in achieving success. It suggests that winners are not necessarily those who never face setbacks but those who maintain their dreams, stay resilient, and persistently work towards their goals.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on winner

9.  “No one is born hating another person because of the color 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.”

Meaning: This quote addresses the nature of prejudice and discrimination, emphasizing that hatred is a learned behavior rather than an innate quality. It asserts that if people can be taught to hate, they can also be taught to love, as love is more inherent to human nature. The quote promotes the idea that understanding and empathy can triumph over prejudice.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on racism

10.  “It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.”

Meaning: This quote reflects the profound impact of Nelson Mandela’s experience in prison and the value he placed on words and communication. It suggests that silence and reflection during his imprisonment helped him realize the significance of words and how they shape people’s lives. It underscores the power of speech and emphasizes the responsibility that comes with using words thoughtfully and purposefully.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on silence

11.  “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Meaning: This quote illustrates that achievement or reaching a significant milestone is not the end but rather a point in a larger journey. It signifies that challenges and new goals await individuals even after they have overcome a significant hurdle. The quote encourages continuous growth, perseverance, and the recognition that life is a series of ongoing challenges.

12.  “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”

Meaning: This quote reflects the idea that finding peace and contentment in life comes from fulfilling one’s responsibilities and obligations to society. It suggests that by dedicating oneself to serving others and making a positive impact, individuals can find a sense of fulfillment and inner tranquility.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on peace

13. “It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.”

Meaning: This quote implies that influencing others through persuasion and subtly guiding them to a desired outcome can be a wise approach. It suggests that by allowing individuals to believe they arrived at a decision independently, they are more likely to be receptive and committed to the outcome. The quote recognizes the power of influence and highlights the importance of tact and subtlety in achieving desired results.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on cooperation

14.  “If you want the cooperation of humans around you, you must make them feel they are important, and you do that by being genuine and humble.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes the significance of building positive relationships and fostering cooperation by valuing and acknowledging the importance of others. It suggests that with authenticity, humility, and respect, individuals can inspire collaboration and create a supportive environment.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on idea

15.  “There is no such thing as part freedom.”

Meaning: This quote asserts that true freedom cannot be experienced in fragments or limited forms. It implies that genuine freedom encompasses all aspects of life and should not be compromised or restricted. The quote advocates for the pursuit of complete and unrestricted freedom in all spheres of existence.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on freedom

Quotes on Happiness

16.  “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes the power of both intellect and compassion. It suggests that when individuals possess both wisdom and empathy, they become a force to be reckoned with. The combination of a sharp mind and a compassionate heart enables individuals to make informed decisions, understand others’ perspectives, and contribute positively to society.

17.  “The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.”

Meaning: This quote underscores the value and significance of friendship in life. It acknowledges that genuine and meaningful friendships are among the most precious gifts one can receive. It highlights the importance of human connection, support, and companionship in finding joy and fulfillment.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on friendship

18.  “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.”

Meaning: This quote redefines courage as not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome it. It suggests that true bravery lies in facing and triumphing over one’s fears rather than being devoid of fear altogether. It encourages individuals to acknowledge their fears and demonstrate resilience and bravery in the face of adversity.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on learning

19.  “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Meaning: This quote highlights the importance of forgiveness, letting go of negative emotions, and embracing a positive mindset. It conveys that holding onto bitterness and hatred only perpetuates one’s own imprisonment and prevents true freedom. The quote encourages individuals to release negativity and embrace forgiveness as a pathway to personal liberation.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on freedom

20.  “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”

Meaning: This quote suggests that true success is not solely dependent on wealth but rather on the freedom to pursue one’s aspirations and goals. It implies that financial resources alone are not enough to achieve success. Instead, the freedom to explore opportunities, take risks, and make choices plays a vital role in attaining personal and professional fulfillment.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on money

21. “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.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes the importance of servant leadership and putting others’ needs before one’s own. It suggests that true leadership involves empowering and supporting others rather than seeking personal glory. By leading from behind and recognizing the contributions of others, leaders can inspire loyalty, appreciation, and effective teamwork.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on victory

 22. “The greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes the value of resilience and perseverance in the face of failure. It suggests that true fulfillment in life comes from the ability to rise and bounce back after setbacks or disappointments. The quote encourages individuals not to be discouraged by failure but to view it as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on glory

 23. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes that individuals have the potential to overcome challenging circumstances and achieve success through dedication and passion. It promotes a belief in the power of perseverance and the ability to transcend limitations by harnessing one’s commitment and enthusiasm for their chosen path.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on courage

 24. “The time is always ripe to do right.”

Meaning: This quote highlights the importance of acting ethically and doing what is morally right at any given moment. It suggests that there is never a wrong time to make a positive difference or stand up for what is just and fair. The quote encourages individuals to seize every opportunity to do good and contribute to a better world.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on time

25. “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun and one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.”

Meaning: This quote reflects the optimistic outlook and resilience of the speaker. It acknowledges the existence of challenging and disheartening moments but emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and progressing forward. The quote underscores the refusal to succumb to despair and the commitment to persevere despite the difficulties encountered.

26.  “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.”

Meaning: This quote expands upon the concept of freedom, suggesting that it is not only about personal liberation but also about fostering an environment where the freedom of others is respected and upheld. It implies that true freedom is intertwined with mutual respect, inclusivity, and the empowerment of others.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on freedom

27.  “If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

Meaning: This quote emphasizes the need for change, growth, and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to achieve new and desired outcomes. It suggests that obtaining something different or reaching a new level of success requires a willingness to take risks, explore unfamiliar territory, and embrace new experiences.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on will power

28.  “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”

Meaning: This quote expresses a commitment to prevent any form of oppression and inequality from recurring in a particular land or society. It emphasizes the importance of learning from past injustices and taking a firm stance against any form of discrimination, ensuring a future where all individuals are treated with fairness and respect.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on experience

29.  “Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.”

Meaning: This quote encourages authenticity and self-expression without the fear of judgment. It suggests that individuals should live their lives based on their own values and beliefs, disregarding external opinions. At the same time, it emphasizes the importance of expressing oneself genuinely, as if one’s words and actions have an impact on others.

Quotes by Nelson Mandela on life


Nelson Mandela’s quotes continue to inspire people all around the world. His words on forgiveness, unity, and courage have inspired many to fight for justice and equality.

Through his teachings, Mandela reminds us of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation to heal wounds and bring about lasting change. Each one of us has the power to make a positive difference in the world. No matter how small it may seem. His autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel.

As we reflect on his words, we are inspired to strive for a more just and equitable world. Where all people are treated with dignity and respect. Nelson Mandela’s legacy lives on through his inspiring words and his tireless work for the betterment of humanity.

Also, do read our other Quotes on Shiva and Hanuman Ji for wisdom, power, courage, and strength.



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