50 Inspirational Nelson Mandela Quotes on Education, Love & Leadership

Nelson Mandela is the name of the legendary South African politician and revolutionary leader who was imprisoned for close to 27 years in the fight against apartheid. He was born into the Madiba clan in Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

Mr. Mandela led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule to black majority rule in the 1990s after 27 years in prison for his political activities. Mandela’s message of reconciliation inspired the world after he negotiated a peaceful end to segregation and urged forgiveness for the white government that imprisoned him. Below are some inspirational quotes from this South African Icon – Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela Quotes on Education

1. “Young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that they can represent us well in future as future leaders.”

2. “Not a day goes by when I don’t read every newspaper I can lay my hands on, wherever I am.”

3. “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.”

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

5. “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”

6. “There are certain precautions you should take to prepare yourself for a fruitful study career. You must brush up your knowledge through systematic reading of literature and newspapers.

7. “Of course we desire education and we think it is a good thing, but you don’t have to have education in order to know that you want certain fundamental rights, you have got aspirations, you have got claims.”

8. “Discussion sharpens one’s interest in any subject and accordingly inspires reading and corrects errors.”

9. “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

His Quotes on Love

10. “No one is born hating another person because of the colour 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.”

11. “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than through acts of retribution.”


12. “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.”

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

14. “There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a program that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources, those who are poor, illiterate, and ridden with terminal disease.”

15. “We must strive to be moved by a generosity of spirit that will enable us to outgrow the hatred and conflicts of the past.”

16. “We must all strive to be inspired by a deep-seated love of our country, without regard to race, colour, gender or station in life.”

Nelson Mandela’s Quotes on Leadership

17. “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”

18. “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”

19. “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 a danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

20. “Leaders in all spheres who are living with HIV should be encouraged, not coerced, to lead by example and disclose their HIV status.”

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21. “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”


22. “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

His Quotes on Life

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

24. “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

25. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. 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. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

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

27. “Those who conduct themselves with morality, integrity, and consistency need not fear the forces of inhumanity and cruelty.”

28. “It is in the character of growth that we should learn from both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.”

29. “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

30. “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”

31. “Difficulties break some men but make others. No ax 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.”

32. “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain tops of our desires.”

33. “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.”


34. “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.”

35. “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.”

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

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

38. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

39. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

40. “As I have said, the first thing is, to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”


41. “I am the captain of my soul.”

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

43. “Appearances matter — and remember to smile.”

44. “One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.”

45. “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”

46. “Know your enemy and learn about his favourite sport.”

47. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the way in which you yourself have altered.”

48. “It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.”

49. “The habit of attending to small things and of appreciating small courtesies is one of the important marks of a good person”

50. “It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on earth irrespective of the consequences.”

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Andile Smith
Andile Smith
Andile provides articles on anything from Politics, Sports, History and entertainment to funny, creepy and weird. His passion for writing allows him to take what is ordinary and transform it into a real masterpiece. He's a true storyteller with a passion for tech and literature


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