RIP Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s struggle is proof for all of us that the cause of freedom and dignity can never die.

While universally celebrated today, this wasn’t always so. Quite simply, his ideals and commitment to social justice and progress were considered a threat to world powers.

Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu on Robben Island in 1966
Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu on Robben Island in 1966 (Getty)

He persevered through 27 years in an apartheid prison while never renouncing his commitment to resistance (armed, or non-violent) against oppression. During those years, he was considered a terrorist by many (from Cheney to Margaret Thatcher) and was only removed from the US Terror watch list in 2008.

He spoke in solidarity with the Palestinian cause, most notably saying, “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” He was also vocal against the unjust war on Iraq, the endless “war on terror”, all the while leading his own country through a difficult transition from an apartheid system.

Let’s not forget these points as we watch hypocritical world leaders attempt to frame his legacy in a sanitized, self-serving fashion.

While no man is perfect, his radical example showed the world there are achievable ideals that cut across humanity we should all struggle for.

Below are two compelling speeches that will inspire forever.

Rest in Power Madiba.

Prepared to Die. Statement in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court (20 April 1964).

“During my lifetime I have dedicated my life 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 will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Transcript of the full speech.

No Easy Road to Freedom. 1994 Inauguration.

“We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

Transcript of the full speech.


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