Below are some memorable quotes by this thoughtful leader. Let's honor Mr. Mandela's legacy by following his example and continuing what he started.
His life was a purposeful journey.
I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, 'Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people;' instead, I simply found myself doing so and could not do otherwise.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear.
It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.
Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.
As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself... Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.
When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.
He understood how the world should be.
Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner toward a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge victors.
Social equality is the only basis of human happiness.
We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens of any society, a life free from violence and fear.
I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. 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 the opposite.
And he gave great advice on how to get there.
Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place.
We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
What counts in life 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.
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.
Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.
Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.
Image credits: first image © unknown; middle images © Getty Images; last image © Yousef Karsh