December 5, 2013 6:45 pm

Inspiring Nelson Mandela quotes on death, optimism and leadership

WATCH: Documentary on life and times of Nelson Mandela (Credit: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory)

TORONTO – Nelson Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95, leaving behind many inspiring words of wisdom.

Here’s a look back at some of the quotes from one of the world’s most beloved political figures.

First, from Mandela’s official Twitter account:

“No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.”

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”


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“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.”

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

“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 its opposite.”

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. 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.”

“A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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