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In the Words of Nelson Mandela

06 December 2013

In remembrance of Nelson Mandela, we’re sharing some extracts from In the Words of Nelson Mandela, a collection of quotations from one of the most admired men on the planet. His thoughts on subjects as diverse as humanity, friendship, oppression and freedom provide valuable insights into the man and all he stands for.

In the introduction, editor Jennifer Crwys-Williams writes:

Nelson Mandela is the world’s role model…with the reach of and might of twenty-first century communications, the myth of the man sometimes conceals the very real human being who exists beneath the hyperbole. How better, then, to let Nelson Mandela speak for himself in his own unembellished words? Perhaps his thoughts, reproduced on these pages…will inspire people, young and old, monied and impoverished, the world over. In particular, I hope it will inspire people who have had few role models in their lives…

Here are a few of our favourite quotations from the book.

On himself:

I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who became a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.

On life:

The important thing is to give happiness to people.

Life is like a big wheel: the one who’s at the top, tomorrow is at the bottom.

On reaching heaven:

I will look for a branch of the ANC and join it.

On reading:

When we read…we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world.

On time:

One minute can change the world.

On domesticity:

I make my own bed every day. I don’t allow the ladies who look after me to do it. I can cook a decent meal . . . I can polish a floor.

On George Bush, former president of the USA

I am aware that he is surrounded by dinosaurs who offer him all sorts of advice.

On regrets

My greatest regret in life is that I never became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

On relaxing

When I have no visitors over weekends, I remain the whole day in my pyjamas and eat samp.

On his heroes

I would never miss a movie with Sophia Loren in it.

On age

I am nearing my end. I want to be able to sleep until eternity with a broad smile on my face, knowing that the youth, opinion-makers and everybody is stretched across the divide, trying to unite the nation.

 Jennifer Crwys-Williams is a South African journalist and broadcaster. Since 1994 she has hosted her own shows in South Africa, interviewing world-famous figures from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Yoko Ono. She has made tea for Nelson Mandela.

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