Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today. Although he is no longer around to teach the world a little more empathy, a little more open-mindedness, we believe it is important not to forget the lessons he shared during his time here, or the sacrifices he made in order to make the world – and specifically Africa – a better place.


His words of wisdom drive our own efforts to alleviate poverty and inequality in Zambia, and we hope that they inspire you too. 




“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”




“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”




“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”




“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you have altered.”




“No single person can liberate a country. You can only liberate a country if you act as a collective.”




“My respect for human beings is based not on the color of a man’s skin nor authority he may wield, but purely on merit.”




“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”




“And if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”




“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere.”


“The greatest glory in living is not in falling, but in rising every time we fall.”


“Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”




“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”




“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” (Nelson quoting Mariane Williamson)




“Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”




“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return.”




“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”



“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice.”




“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”




“I never lose. I either win or learn.”


“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”


“What counts is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”




“It is what we make out of what we have been given, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”




“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”




“In my country, we go to prison first and then become President.”



“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all person live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”




“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”