In his own words... Nelson Mandela

By Misha Solanga
18 July 2017

You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself- Madiba

He was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and a philanthropist, often referred to as the father of the nation and served as this country’s president. He is a global icon and of course has been a part of many interviews but we want to share with you our favorite Nelson Mandela interview.

This is an interview between Tata Mandela and Oprah Winfrey.

Image: Oprah & Nelson Mandela/ Image: Oprah & Nelson Mandela/

On being seen as a hero

“Well that is one of the things that worried me, to be raised to the position of a semi-god because then you’re no longer a human. I wanted to be known as Mandela a man with weaknesses some of which were fundamental. That worried me a great deal, especially because I knew it was not at the contribution of an individual which would bring about liberation and the peaceful transformation of the country. And my first task when I came out was to destroy that myth that I was something other than an ordinary human being.”

On establishing respect in jail

“You must fight the battle for dignity on the very first day you go to jail, and that’s what we did. We out our foot down and insisted on being respected even though we were prisoners and we eventually succeeded.”

On not being bitter after coming out of jail

“Well I hated oppression and when I think about the past and the type of things they did I feel angry. You have a limited time to stay on earth, you must try to use that period for the purpose of transforming your country into what you desire it to be: a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist country and that was a great task.”

On not listening to their (ANC) emotions

“We had that conflict. Our emotions said “the white minority is an enemy we must never talk to them” but our brains said “if you don’t talk to these men your country will go up in flames and for many years to come this country will be engulfed in rivers of blood.” So we had to reconcile that conflict and our talking to the enemy was the result of the domination of the brain over emotions.”

On how to be a peacemaker

“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself, and one of the most important weapons in changing yourself is to recognise that people everywhere in the world want peace but humility is one of the most important, qualities which you must have. If you make people realise that you are no threat to them, people will embrace you.”

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