Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, died Thursday night at the age of 95. The announcement was made about half an hour before midnight by the current South African President Jacob Zuma. Nelson Mandela was cared for at home by 22 physicians, from September 1st, after he was hospitalized for three months because of a lung infection and multiple complications.
Although pneumonia seemed to give him peace, his lungs have suffered over time, becoming extremely sensitive. Nelson Mandela suffered from tuberculosis he contacted while in detention on the prison – island Robben Island off Cape Town, where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.
Although it’s hard to imagine a world without Nelson Mandela, the best way we can think about honoring him is though the immense knowledge he bestowed upon us over the years. So, here are ten incredible quotes from Nelson Mandela to guide us all.
1. Never lose faith in humanity
“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, 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. That way lays defeat and death.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
2. Poverty is not natural
“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it. 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.” —Ambassador of Conscience Award Acceptance Speech, November 01, 2006
3. Freedom is not an easy task
“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 mountaintop of our desires”.
4. What makes a good leader
“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”.
5. Change history, change the world
“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?” —Tromso, Norway, 2005
6. Think big
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
7. Hate is learned, born
“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.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
“Before I went to jail, I was active in politics as a member of South Africa’s leading organization – and I was generally busy from 7 A.M. until midnight. I never had time to sit and think”.
9. Courage is not the absence of fear
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear myself more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”.
10. Death vs. duty
“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. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity”.