On apartheid rule:
“We are extricating ourselves from a system that insulted our common humanity by dividing us from one another on the basis of race and setting us against each other an oppressed and oppressor. That system committed a crime against humanity.” — Speech in Pretoria upon receipt of a report from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid-era atrocities. Oct. 29, 1998
“Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods.” — Address to the UK’s Joint Houses of Parliament, July 11, 1996.
On his opposition to apartheid:
“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.” — Statement at the opening of his defense in the Rivonia treason trial, April 20, 1964.
On human solidarity:
“As the years progress one increasingly realizes the importance of friendship and human solidarity. And if a ninety-year-old may offer some unsolicited advice on this occasion, it would be that you, irrespective of your age, should place human solidarity, the concern for the other, at the centre of the values by which you live. ” — Lecture in Kliptown, Soweto on July 12, 2008.
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” — Speech delivered in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
In His Own Words: Quotes from South Africa’s Nelson Mandela - Bloomberg