Nelson Mandela's Most Inspirational Quotes

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Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95 today, spent much of his life fighting the injustices of apartheid.

After spending 27 years in prison for battling the apartheid government, Mandela went on to win the first fully democratic election in South African history, and in 1993 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of work for human equality.

Life of Nelson Mandela: See the Photos

Over his storied career, Mandela eloquently voiced his opinions and detailed his life experiences, leaving a trail of some of the most inspiring quotations of our time.

Here are some of Mandela's most memorable words:

Democratic and Free Society

"During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

--April 1964, statement from the dock at the opening of his defense case in the Rivonia trial

Genuine Brotherhood

"Let the strivings of us all prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct, when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war. Let the efforts of us all prove that he was not a mere dreamer when he spoke of the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace being more precious than diamonds or silver or gold. Let a new age dawn."

--December 1993, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

New Era

"Today we are entering a new era for our country and its people. Today we celebrate not the victory of a party, but a victory for all the people of South Africa."

--May 1994, election victory speech to the people of Cape Town, South Africa

Healing Wounds

"The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us."

--May 1994, at his inauguration as president of the Democratic Republic of South Africa.

No One Is Born to Hate

"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."

--1994, from his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom"

Bravery and Fear

"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

--1994, "Long Walk to Freedom"

Forgiveness

"We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart; and to move ourselves to eradicate a legacy that lurks dangerously as a threat to our democracy."

--February 1999, opening address at the debate on the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

AIDS

"AIDS is no longer just a disease; it is a human rights issue. It affects people of all ages but particularly young people. For the sake of all of them and our future, we must act and act now."

--November 2003, 46664 concert at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa

Human Progress

"Your election to this high office has inspired people as few other events in recent times have done. Amidst all of the human progress made over the last century, the world in which we live remains one of great divisions, conflict, inequality, poverty and injustice. Amongst many around the world a sense of hopelessness had set in as so many problems remain unresolved and seemingly incapable of being resolved. You, Mr. President, have brought a new voice of hope that these problems can be addressed and that we can in fact change the world and make of it a better place."

--January 2009, on the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States

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