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Quotes from South Africans


There have been South Africans in recent times and throughout history who have said some interesting, inspiring and sometimes motivational things. This post is a tribute to all of them. If theres someone from South Africa who could be added to this list in a future post on this topic, please let me know. Since there are many famous South Africans this will be a recurring feature on my quotes section on Running Wolf’s Rant.

Nelson Mandela was jailed for 27 years on Robben Island near the city of Cape Town in South Africa. He was released in 1990 and was elected as the first president of a democratic South Africa in 1994. Here are a few quotes from Madiba (what people in South Africa call Mandela):

“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.”

“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.”

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

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

“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”

“There is no such thing as part freedom.”

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists. I tell them that I was also a terrorist yesterday, but, today, I am admired by the very people who said I was one.”

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

“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.”

Alan Paton (1903 – 1988) was a South African author and liberal political activist. His most famous work is probably Cry the beloved country which was published in 1948. The book was also made into a film in 1951 and more recently in 1995. The book was a social protest against the structures of the society in South Africa which led to Apartheid. The book was published before Apartheid legislation was passed later in the same year. (1948). Here are a few quotes from Alan Paton:

“There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.”

“To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one’s responsibility as a free man.”

“You ask yourself not if this or that is expedient, but if it is right.”

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply… For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.”

“What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another?”

“Who knows for what we live, and struggle, and die?… Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.”

“If you wrote a novel in South Africa which didn’t concern the central issues, it wouldn’t be worth publishing.”

“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive”

“I envision someday a great, peaceful South Africa in which the world will take pride, a nation in which each of many different groups will be making its own creative contribution.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu is a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of Apartheid. In 1984 he was the 2nd South African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He also chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
Here are a few quotes from him Bishop Desmond Tutu:

“I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum.”

“Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. ”

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ”

“When a pile of cups is tottering on the edge of the table and you warn that they will crash to the ground, in South Africa you are blamed when that happens.”

“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.”

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. ”

“Those who invest in South Africa should not think they are doing us a favor; they are here for what they get out of our cheap and abundant labor, and they should know that they are buttressing one of the most vicious systems.”

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  1. We are who we are today because of you Ntate Madiba. We wish you many more years to come. Ha ho ya tshwanang le wena!!!!


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