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10 Inspirational quotes to celebrate Mandela Day

18 July 2017

Nelson Mandela’s birthday is celebrated today and in honouring his legacy we are encouraged to recognise our own ability, and responsibility, to make this world a better place.

Mandela Day commemorates the 67 years of public service that Nelson Mandela spent making a difference to South Africans and the world. The United Nations declared Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, inspired by his 90th birthday celebration in Hyde Park in 2008 when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now”.

Mandela’s legacy of service motivates us to recognise our individual power to promote peace and equality. Here are a few of our favourite quotes that inspire us to lift the burden:

I am inspired currently by the courage of ANC Member of Parliament, Dr Makhosi Khoza. She is speaking truth to power and her bravery in speaking up about what is corrupt and wrong with our leadership in South Africa today is so inspiring. She was one of the panellists on the Legacy Project last night and loved her contributions, along with Sipho Pityana and Solly Mapaila. Although she has received death threats for her outspokenness and her honesty she has still continued to call on other MP’s to be ethical and vote with their conscience on 8 August. She is willing to risk so much to remain true to Madiba’s dream for South Africa. She is my inspiration this Mandela Day. – Lindy Briginshaw


A truth that encapsulates and represents Madiba, for he was this formidable combination in every way possible. We are reminded of his greatness in the simple yet truthful words of wisdom which he shared with us during his time with us. – Susannah Clarke


This quote serves to remind me that although we have a way to go in realising the emancipation of womxn in South Africa, there are men who stand as feminists and challenge the conventions of patriarchy. Mandela frequently spoke out against rape and sexual abuse of womxn and rejected the idea that these social atrocities were for womxn alone to solve. The inclusion of men is womxn’s issues is vital for progress to be made in the realisation of gender equality. In the same way that Madiba spoke openly and shamelessly about these issues, we need to encourage more men to perform publically witnessed instances in which they break rank with patriarchy.  – Leanne Adams

Giving all people the right to live with dignity and the ability to truly achieve their full potential is perhaps one of the most challenging but noble tasks required. To be reminded that this is what it means to be part of humanity, and not simply an act of charity, is a simple way we can understand how far we’ve come and what work still needs to be done – Fatima Mathivha

This quote lies close to my heart because I know that older men and women are not always valued in society. We hear much too often about pensioners who are robbed or conned out of their old age grants. We cannot comprehend how a grandmother can be raped by her own grandchild. The level of violence against older persons in domestic situations and where other crimes are committed is beyond disconcerting. The fact that apparently nobody noticed that a significant portion of the men and women who died in the Esidimeni tragedy, was over 60 years of age, is chilling.

My wish for all older persons in our country is that they should be respected and honoured for the mere fact that they are human beings and that all human beings are entitled to dignity and respect, irrespective of their situation. Nelson Mandala must have been one of the most respected older persons in the world. When he was released from prison in 1990, he was already well into the age category we know as “older persons”.  Let us treat our older persons like we would have treated our beloved Madiba who exemplified respect for the human race. – Fia van Rensburg

This quote for me is a constant reminder that whatever obstacles/challenges one is facing today, there is a brighter day tomorrow if they keep on persevering. – Mkhululi Mnyaka

This quote is endearing to me – to me it not only encompasses the importance of formal education for which our government has the duty to ensure we all have access to, but it speaks to our own role and responsibility in educating others around us who are uninformed, sheltered, or ignorant. When atrocities are spoken, inequality and discrimination are encouraged, and when others’ human dignity is denied, one’s response with silence can serve as submission. We should continuously be encouraged to use our own informed voices and courage of conviction to educate the ‘uneducated’, and hearten the ignorant to open their minds. – Jenna Joffe

Looking at the current status of KZN where political leaders are killed especially ANC counsellors and President Madiba never promoted such and I agree with Lindy on Dr Makhosi’s bravery as well as Solly Mapaila (SACP) for revealing the truth about the current president’s lies to the public. – Koena Ngoepe

This rings so true to me – making a meaningful contribution is something (I think) to which we all strive, however having the skill to use one’s words to champion the plight of others or to forge opportunities where there may have been none is special and necessary particularly in a time when words are cheap and the populace so easily fooled by gilded promises. – Chloe Liebenberg

This quote reminds me of the resilient spirit of the South African people. A people who have been through so much but continue to overcome each and every obstacle. We are a unique, strong, and determined people who refuse to accept the status quo – we are change makers, life givers, nation builders and we shall overcome!! – Itumeleng Ramano

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