Mandela's wisdom - in his own words

2011-06-27 22:00

Johannesburg - A new Nelson Mandela book, slim and set in eye-straining type, looks a bit like a bible or a prayer book.

That's fitting, because the editors of Nelson Mandela By Himself brought something close to religious zeal to the task of choosing and checking more than 2 000 quotations to ensure the world gets the icon's words right.

The book was released on Monday - days after US First Lady Michelle Obama got an advance copy signed by Mandela when she met him during a visit to South Africa.

Editors Sello Hatang and Sahm Venter work for Mandela's foundation, which oversees charity and development work on his behalf and houses some of his archives.

Hatang and Venter say the Nelson Mandela Foundation receives thousands of requests from researchers and others to confirm the accuracy of Mandela's quotes. The book is, in part, an attempt to settle such questions in one place.

Often misquoted

The editors turned to speeches, notebook entries, recorded conversations and other material, some until now unpublished, for the book.

Hatang and Venter say in their introduction: "We can all honour Nelson Mandela by quoting him correctly and accurately."

The apartheid government once declared it illegal to quote Mandela. He is now, according to Hatang and Venter, among the most quoted people in the world. But they say he is often misquoted.

For a book that would slip easily into a jacket pocket, Nelson Mandela By Himself has a daunting table of contents.

There are 317 subject headings, from accountability to Zionism. "Prison" is divided into a further 26 headings, one short of the 27 years Mandela was incarcerated, with his musings on his release, visitors and even contemplating escape.

Victory is found between vengeance - "We had to refuse that our long sacrifice should make a stone of our hearts" - and violence - "Great anger and violence can never build a nation.

"We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors," from a 1990 speech to the European parliament, is among eight victory quotations offered.

Parallels to Mao's little red book

The book's emphasis on the uplifting and the pedagogical might lead some to draw parallels to Mao's little red book. But we also see Mandela questioning his choices:

"I have often wondered whether a person is justified in neglecting his own family to fight for opportunities for others."

And there are flashes of his famous, self-deprecating humour:

"If only to emphasise that I am human, and as fallible as anyone else, let me admit that ... accolades do flatter me."

The quotations are arranged chronologically within each category, allowing readers a sense of how Mandela's ideas developed over time - or in some cases held firm, as with his loyalty to regimes in Cuba and Libya that supported his African National Congress during the struggle against apartheid.

His early observations on Africa suffering under imperialism evolve to more recent criticism of the continent's homegrown tyrants.

On Aids, he becomes increasingly blunt as his urgency grows.

Here he is in 1992: "Many of us find it difficult to talk about sex to our children, but nature's truth is that unless we guide the youth towards safer sex, the alternative is playing into the hands of a killer disease."

And, simply, in 2005: "My son has died of Aids."

- Buy a copy of Nelson Mandela By Himself on

  • Zupta - 2011-06-28 01:58

    I also agree. Mandela would be able to turn the tide of corruption and mismanagement plse Mr Mandela say some thing we need a voice of reason. Before it's too late.

      BOY30 - 2011-06-28 09:57

      let Mr Mandela rest. He played his part.

      Uthando - 2011-06-28 13:08

      People!! The man is old, he cant even speak properly. The article does say that the authors had to RESEARCH quotes from his old speeches etc...He done stayed in prison for 27yrs, prior to whch he spent his life fighting the apartheid regime...Let him have peace & quieteness during the time he has left, which is not a lot of time by the look of things, but I pray God keeps him for as long as possible.

      senkgisha - 2011-06-28 13:59

      Wy you never asked the time he was still president?

      DoublySalmon - 2011-06-28 15:07

      Mandela later admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights, sharply criticising those in his own party who attempted to remove statements supporting this fact from the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he 'unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon'. So we why do we respect this terrorist? A classic Mandela quote omitted from this book is, "Let's start a bombing campaign"!

      USSA - 2011-06-28 19:14

      As always...I ask only one question: Has Nelson Mandela EVER publicly asked his people to stop killing white farmers?

  • Marcell - 2011-06-28 04:16

    mandela will not do anything as he is as much part of the problem as the rest of the ancESTORS.

      Optimus-Prime - 2011-06-28 11:15

      wow, that was insightful - much like most of the crap that comes out of Malema's mouth.

      senkgisha - 2011-06-28 14:00

      I tougt you changed....but naaah?

      Rajty - 2011-06-28 15:07

      How is he a part of the problem....if it weren't for him you and your family would most likely have been slaughtered in 1994....

      franssmith100 - 2011-06-28 18:55

      Rajty, a lot of families or family members have been slaughtered (see sa crime stats and the fact that sa is on the world genocide watchlist), for the rest, it has only been postponed...

  • Vrijheid - 2011-06-28 08:01

    "If only to emphasise that I am human, and as fallible as anyone else, let me admit that ... accolades do flatter me." - Quite fluent I would say, is this the British translated version?

      squeegeepilot - 2011-06-28 12:40

      Unlike you Mr Mandela has an education.

      Rajty - 2011-06-28 15:08

      This is the racism that we talk about- the man is the greatest Saffer and yet you try and find fault with him....are you this critical with whites...your redneck kind who cant pronounce english words because their mouths are always full of boerewors...twat

      franssmith100 - 2011-06-28 19:06

      @Rajty, you say "he is the greatest" ..#affer? Whilst he was married to winnie, she committed murder (was found guilty against all odds), kidnapping, found guilty on 43 counts of fraud, 25 of theft - all guilty....and he did not know a thing about it hey...and did not profit from it? Never spend a day in jail, why, because nelson was her husband In my book, a hero is not a criminal, not a murderer, does not condone crime. A true leader is not one who looks away form injustive, because it suits him and his family etc; He, who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” HE DID NOT! “He who profits by a crime commits it” HE DID! Seneca - Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD

  • Lebo - 2011-06-28 08:22

    Let Juju be appointed president (which I'm totally againt, just by the way), then all these people with negative comments about Mandela will then realise that Mandela truly is a Saint...Look at what Mugabe did to Zim, then ask yourself what would have happened if Mandela had done the same thing...but he didn't, instead he reconciled the nation and was pro a united SA...In my view, only those that benefited from the Apartheid regime would have something bad to say about Madiba...He's a legend!

      Sooth Slayer - 2011-06-28 09:53

      Mandela didnt reconcile the nation. get it into your head. White people still live as if they are supported by apartheid laws, black people still live outside the mainstream south african economy. mandela is so famous because he stopped blacks from visiting revenge upon their white tormentors. Mugabe was also once this famous, until he turned on the white people. The long and short of it is that mandela sold out BIG TIME! Its actually ironic that the very same people who surrounded Mandela (as jail guards - whites) when he was in jail for 27 years, are the very same people still surrounding him now. The poor old guy never left prison!

      senkgisha - 2011-06-28 14:03

      Mandela is main role player to the present Sout Africa!!! It'snow up to you as to how you see it.

      Sooth Slayer - 2011-06-28 14:27

      senkgisha my first instinct was to disagree with you (because there are many men and women who played much more sterling roles for South Africa than mandela) but let us suppose you are right. How do you interpret the present south Africa? Its a country which 1) has very big racial divisions, socially, economically and politically. 2. A country with a very uneducated/ under-educated majority (remnant of the apartheid system that many gallant sons and daughter of south africa died fighting). 3. Black people only got 2 things at the end of apartheid; namely, the ability to vote and the chance to be in office (note here that to be in office does not mean to be in power). Now tell me this: when Nelson mandela was sentenced to jail in 1962, where these the only things he was fighting for? if not, then at some point he sold out. lastly, upon his release from jail, nelson mandela spoke about nationalizing the south african economy (because logically- its the only way you can get the majority of previously and currently disadvantaged people to benefit from this economy. If nationalisation was so important to him then, why has he not said anything in support of the ANCYL or at least given us his views about it now? i can bet you my last dollar, of all the quotes in this book, i doubt any one of them refers to his nationalisation speech of 1989!

      Tolerant - 2011-06-28 15:55

      Sooth, some people never left apartheid, this looking back is another prison that stop people from growing.

  • Zupta - 2011-06-28 08:32

    Kolobe, u just a racist as the rest. Stop voting on colour man,vote on morals and values. For heaven sakes we r 20 yrs down the line, when r u going to catch a wake up! There ain't black or White parties anymore. The ANC creates a perception of black and White. The ANC is corrupt so make ur choice. If ur choice is corruption then go vote ANC if it's not then vote another. See no colour involved in ur choice. Once you've reached this level of thinking then you a politically mature voter. As for now there's some growing up to do. Plse don't respond and make a fool of urself.

  • Afro-centric - 2011-06-28 09:08

    @ Creeky. you seem to be suffering from a serious verbal diarrhoea; you need to get a life. How can you say such horrible things about a great man who peacefully retired before all this mess happened. Mandela is also a human being and he has a right to have his own space and enjoy the last years of his life. Have you ever bothered to think about how much the man has done? He has given you and your family a life. You should be ashamed of yourself

      Patrick - 2011-06-28 09:31

      Well said, Afro-centric, Madiba is a giant among men, and illustrates the principles of Christianity (& of other great religions!) perfectly: just too bad that the ANC have patently forgotten about moral principles, & even Zuma has (yesterday) admitted 'the Movement is in crisis'......

  • York Hunt - 2011-06-28 10:13

    A bible or prayer book??? With a number like "4 666 4" associated with the man and now his own "bible"??? Makes one wonder. Makes me think "hold on a minute!" The only other person in history who the world celebrates their birthday is our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the world is going to have Mandela Day (July 18). Is Mandela going to be deified after he dies? Is the world going to worship him as an icon of human rights and humanitarianism? Why is 666 associated with him?

      Currie_Mafia - 2011-06-28 10:50

      Save it for Sunday....

      UmFaan - 2011-06-28 11:08

      Stop looking at the deeper meaning of a number allocated to a prisoner. The number was awarded at random. Will we really believe that someone, that has the number 007 in his ID, is indeed James Bond?? No, it is ridiculous – and the same applies to Madiba, that has the number 666 as part of his prisoner number.. His deeds over the years should have convinced you of the truth

      Bacon - 2011-06-28 11:41

      York Hunt is a pretty vulgar user name for a Christian.

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 11:57

      I asked you all a couple of questions, but no one cared to answer one of them. Why even comment? All I got was your 2 cents worth... I never made any statement of my own. I just asked for opinion. Sorry if the topic was over your heads!

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 12:00

      @Umfaan. Indeed, his deeds should have convinced all of us. Lets see... Church Street massacre, attempted coup and general terrorism acts of terror. Thank you for that.

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 12:03

      @Bacon. With a name like Bacon you must be of the Suidae biological family. Nice one.

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 12:25

      @YorkHunt: Yawn! Are you still here? Didn't the rapture happen last month?

      SiphoAllenHadebe - 2011-06-28 13:53

      York Hunt you are so right. And my other question is also how can you be a freedom fighter, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but in his book it states that he consent the bombing of church street? Did I miss something, is there something we should know about Nelson? Is there a man hiding behind the mirror who is the real thing?

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 13:55

      You wanna know what the rapture is? Don't worry about's just some folklore.

      rob4e - 2011-06-30 11:30

      This is why I hate christians

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-06-28 10:22

    Mandela releases book...fokol else...I don't see why knickers are getting knotted...

  • TheUgly - 2011-06-28 11:22

    I agree that Mandela is entitled to his golden years, but surly since he has the respect of the entire nation his influence can make a huge diffrernce in the lives of millions. The ANC is taking the legacy of our Madiba and dragging it through the mud.

      Marcell - 2011-06-28 11:31

      Don't speak on be half of the nation.

  • BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 12:31

    There's nothing as bitter and twisted as a middle aged white South African. Remember, your kids need make a future for themselves in South Africa. By showing nothing but contempt for your country and society - you're setting them up for failure. YOU'RE the ones ostracizing them from society, before they even had a chance to try and make it. Get a grip and do the right thing by equipping them with positive attitudes instead of projecting all of your disappointments and resentments onto them.

      Marcell - 2011-06-28 12:45

      That is why you leave your country of birth so that your kids can have an equal opportunity to succeed.

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 13:52

      And look at the comments. No wonder people think we're morons who are stuck in a time warp.

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 13:59

      BTW...if you think equipping your kids with skills that will make them succeed in changing environments is "pop psychology"...then you better take your family and go and vleg koeksisters in orania till the day you die. Times are changing, you either move with it or you get left behind dude.

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 14:07

      @BrixtonBasketCase. I am writing this slowly because you obviously read slowly. The article above is about Nelson Mandela. See? He has a new book out. If you are a disgruntled middle-aged white person, good for you. Comment on the story. Get it?

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 14:09

      @BrixtonWhatEver.You're right. People do think you're a moron who vlegs koeksusters. G F Y

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 14:15

      I'm the moron? Haha. Says someone who believes that Nelson Mandela is secretly the antichrist, conspiring against christianity through subliminal messaging throughout his 92 years of life. Grow up dude and don't take yourself so seriously...noone else does! Later!

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 14:25

      In your first line you said it. You're the moron. I never said anything about what I believe in my first post. I simply asked for people for their opinion. So, you're the moron a$$wipe!

      Tolerant - 2011-06-28 14:35

      I know of a few bitter people of all races, at least most whiteys build the country by working and paying income tax.

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 14:42

      @Tolerant: Agreed, but we're also making ourselves miserable. No person or organization is going to come and say "you're being treated unfairly, let's make it all better", so permanently sulking and acting all vexed won't get us anywhere. Might as well make the best of a less than ideal situation.

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 15:09

      @ YorkHunt: These are your musings..."With a number like "4 666 4" associated with the man and now his own "bible"??? Makes one wonder. Makes me think "hold on a minute! Why is 666 associated with him?" You then carry on to mention Jesus, eluding to biblical prophecy and mumbo jumbo. If it makes YOU think "hold on a minute", then it strikes a cord with YOU. Millions of other people don't associate the so called number of the beast with Nelson Mandela's prisoner number. To them, it's just a randomly assigned number. YOU'RE making the association, so it's YOUR train of thought. I suggest you learn how to present your case clearly and properly before you fly off the handle.

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 15:45

      "eluding?" Sorry to correct your illiterate a$$ but you should have said "alluding".

      York Hunt - 2011-06-28 15:48

      @BrixtonBasketCase. You my friend flew off the handle. Commie leftist.

      BrixtonBriefcase - 2011-06-28 16:15

      You keep on correcting those little spelling mistakes, you torturer! Brixtonbasketcase? You argue like a primary school girl already, so let's leave the namecalling on the schoolground. Commie? COMMIE? LOL That made my day! Ja groot krokkedil! I think you might be late for the broederbond meeting. They'll be discussing the evils of television and die swart gevaar. You're positively archaic brother. It must be hell trying to get through life with such a narrow mind. Demons out to "get you" around every corner. Best of luck to you!

  • WhoGivesAshi - 2011-06-28 13:42

    Another one? Don`t we have enough already?

  • SiphoAllenHadebe - 2011-06-28 13:54

    Question: how can you be a freedom fighter, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but in his book it states that he consent the bombing of church street? Did I miss something, is there something we should know about Nelson? Is there a man hiding behind the mirror who is the real thing?

      Uthando - 2011-06-28 14:35

      You sir, need Jesus.

      Rajty - 2011-06-28 15:16

      Freedom to the people of this country- all of them- by utilising all means possible- considering that he forgoed release from prison because the gov. wouldn't end aprtheid, that he championed a cause that eventually led to the downfall of the minority government- thats how he did it. Go read his book, buck up on history and try and see the bigger picture....would you not fight for your freedom, would you not die for it- now ask yourself if you would be prepared to do it for someones elses freedom....that is his legacy- selflessness.

      Uthando - 2011-06-28 15:24

      I AM thinking logically. That's why I can teach you a bit about litterature & how to construct a simple sentence like: He did 'SELL' us out - idiot!

  • senkgisha - 2011-06-28 14:05

    This is the man behind our present South Africa..... Yes he did sold us out!!!

      Uthando - 2011-06-28 14:33

      Just because he didn't declare war on white people? Is that what people do when they sell each other out - they ask for peace in a country which was once in turmoil? No, dont answer, you already stink of Malemeria. And it is EXACTLY people like you Mandela fought hard to keep away from his plans of uniting this nation, not destroy it further. So F*CK OFF!

      ANCockup - 2011-06-28 15:36

      I wish he hadnt. We shouldve had a war, it would have been easy to wipe a bunch of locusts out.

  • Tolerant - 2011-06-28 14:38

    I like the 1: "both black and white can emerge as victors". There are a place for us all in SA.

  • scott - 2011-06-28 15:25

    hhhmmmm, I must live a sheltered life, I do respect Mr Mandela, but i have never heard anybody, in media or print, seen anybody quoting or paraphrasing Nelson, so how come is he one of the most quoted Human beings? according to Hattang ans Venter?

      Worldwise - 2011-06-28 23:50

      Hitler,Stalin, and a few other demagogues are also some of the most quoted human beings. Does being much quoted make you a good person?

  • ANCockup - 2011-06-28 15:38

    Lets not lose sight of the fact that when Mandela became president he set the precedent for nepotism when he deployed his criminal ANC cadres to every level of government including his murdering thief ex wife who he made minister of arts and culture.

      franssmith100 - 2011-06-28 19:24

      and he did not know his wife was fund guilty of 25 counts of theft, 43 of corruption, 1 of murder and kidnapping.... and he did not profit a cent from it......; He, who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” “He who profits by a crime commits it” Seneca - Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD “The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind” Joseph Conrad THE POOR VOTER......

  • Linale - 2011-06-28 16:34

    This old man is starting to look like a clay-made artwork!!! look at this smile, he resembles a doll used to convey message to hostagees in saw movies!! *I wanna play a game* "jigsaw's voice" LMAOOO

  • franssmith100 - 2011-06-28 19:21

    He said; "Great anger and violence can never build a nation" - Looks like sa is then Fu!@#$, because just reading comments on news24, hearing malema etc and watching the crime stats? Other advise from Mr Mandela, not even taken by his son; "Many of us find it difficult to talk about sex to our children, but nature's truth is that unless we guide the youth towards safer sex, the alternative is playing into the hands of a killer disease." 2005 - "My son has died of Aids."

  • Kingsley Paul - 2011-06-28 19:59

    A great man with great statements

  • Benniten - 2011-06-28 23:44

    Quote, if the grass I planted and walked on, turned in to dirt and dust!

  • longgone - 2011-06-29 14:59

    USSA. He will not do that publicly. He will never say anything against his party. Do not think he is a shining star. To the world yes but to many others no. And for Brixtonbriefcase Yes times are changing.

  • kris.citowicz - 2011-06-30 18:25

    Kris 1807 Mandela's prison number was chosen by him? Some of you guys are just impossible ignorants.

  • Rasky - 2011-06-30 21:48

    Who cares.Still a terrorist.

  • paypalawsuit - 2011-07-01 11:12

    is this the same dude that danced to "kill the Boer" song and turn around to international TV reporters and say there is a place for everyone in SA. the biggest clown and people think he care. look at this video proof

  • bentz5000 - 2011-07-14 13:28

    Where is Mandela's wisdom on all these farm murders and corruption that is so rife in his motherland??

  • Livhuwani Tshigalo - 2013-12-06 08:25

    May mandela rest in peace

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