Tribute to Nelson Mandela

This is a tribute to Nelson Mandela, an astonishing man and a leader to whom we owe so much. A symbol of global peace-making and often described as "the father of the nation". South African President 1994-1999. Passed away in 2013.

“Nelson Mandela was the greatest leader of our age.” (


1. Ten Amazing Facts about Mandela (most you didn't know)
2. Our Favourite Mandela Quotes
3. World Leaders’ Comments
4. Meeting Nelson Mandela - Celebrities
5. Meeting Nelson Mandela - Other
6. Dialogue from Documentary Movie “Invictus”
7. Movies about Nelson Mandela
8. Mandela Books
9. External Links

1. Ten Amazing Facts about Mandela (most you didn't know)

He received Orders (Medals) from 23 countries (mostly the county’s highest civilian award). These included the USA’s ‘Congressional Gold Medal’, Soviet Union’s ‘Order of Lenin’, France’s ‘Legion of Honour’ etc.

A whopping 78 heads-of-states attended Mandela’s memorial service. Before that, the largest gathering for a send-off was for John Paul II funeral in 2005 where 70 heads-of-states attended.

He was awarded Honouring Doctorates/Degrees from more than 60 universities around the world.

He was awarded the “Freedom of the City” from 24 cities around the world. Also received honorary citizenship from another 5 cities.

A nuclear particle discovered by scientists at the University of Leeds is named the "Mandela particle".

He received many international awards. These included, Nobel Peace Prize, IOC’s Olympic Gold Order, Gandhi Peace Prize, Anne Frank Medal, Time magazine’s Person of the Year etc.

In 2009 the United Nations declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day. On this day the UN calls on everyone in the world to take 67 minutes to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity (through volunteering and community service). 67 is the number of years Mandela fought social injustice. 18 July is Mandela’s birthday.

Mandela was unjustly imprison for 27 years. He spent 18 of those in the prison on the now famous Robben Island.

Mandela and Oliver Tambo set up South Africa’s first black-run law firm.

Mandela was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. He was also made an honorary member of Manchester United and the Harlem Globetrotters.

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2. Our Favourite Mandela Quotes

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour 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.”

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

"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."

“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another… Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. God bless Africa”.

“Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”
“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.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

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3. World Leaders’ Comments

Below are comments from world leaders on the passing of Nelson Mandela (in 2013).

"a giant of history" “We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.” (US President, Barack Obama)

"A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a towering figure in our time; a legend in life and now in death - a true global hero." (UK British Prime Minister, David Cameron)

"Nelson Mandela was a singular figure on the global stage - a man of quiet dignity and towering achievement, a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration." (UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon)

"Nelson Mandela … most courageous and important of those who supported us" "This is a great loss for all the peoples of the world” (President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas)

"one of the most honorable figures of our time ... a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence." (Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu)

"We will remember Mr Mandela as a great man for his sacrifices, accomplishments and relentless quest for peace. (People's Republic of China President, Xi Jinping)

"a giant among men has passed away. This is as much India's loss as South Africa's. He was a true Gandhian. His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come. (India Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh)

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4. Meeting Nelson Mandela - Celebrities

“One of the great honours of my life was to be invited to Nelson Mandela's home, spend private time and get to know him. He was everything you've ever heard and more – humble and unscathed by bitterness. And he always loved to tell a good joke. Being in his presence was like sitting with grace and majesty at the same time. He will always be my hero. His life was a gift to us all.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“It was pretty amazing. The energy that he has, that he exudes, is unlike any person I've ever met. And it was an honour to meet him at his home. And that's an experience that I will never, ever forget.” (Tiger Woods)

Interviewer: “What’s it like to meet Nelson Mandela?”
Will Smith: “You kind of feel small, yet you see how big you could be at the same time.”

“It is impossible to sum up the impact Nelson Mandela had on South Africa and the world.  I will never forget the day I met him and experienced firsthand his indomitable spirit and warm, charismatic smile.”  (Clint Eastwood)

“I will never forget the time I spent with President Mandela. Even before I met him, he was one of my heroes.” … “President Mandela’s life is the closest thing we have to proof of God. I will never be able to thank him enough for his inspiration.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

"Every time Melinda and I met Nelson Mandela, we left more inspired than ever. His grace and courage changed the world”. (Bill Gates)

"Generally, when you meet a hero in life, you are disappointed. My impression of Nelson Mandela was enhanced." (Richard Branson)

'Never met a better person in my life than Nelson Mandela.” (Samuel L Jackson)

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5. Meeting Nelson Mandela - Other

In 1993 Mandela invited General Constand Viljoen over for tea. Viljoen was the leader of the Afrikaner Volksfront which was well-armed, well-structured and planning a nationwide terror campaign (they didn’t want to lose their country). Mandela personally greeted Viljoen and his associates at the door. Mandela made Viljoen tea, first asking if he wanted milk and sugar. Mandela spoke to Viljoen in Afrikaans (his native language), and convinced him that it would be a war that no one could win. Mandela also showed Viljoen that Afrikaners and blacks could live together. After several fruitful meetings, Viljoen called of the war and then also agreed to become a minster in the coalition government. “Mandela wins over all who meet him,” Viljoen confessed to Carlin. (This is from John Carlin’s book ‘Knowing Mandela’)

“I have met some of the greatest leaders of our time. I’ve met prime ministers, CEOs, political leaders of all kinds, union leaders and the one leader that stood head and shoulders above all else was Nelson Mandela. He was the greatest leader that I ever had the opportunity to meet.” (Vivek Ranadive - multi-billion dollar Indian businessman).

The staff in the old presidency were told beforehand of the day Mandela would arrive to take office and replace De Klerk. Apprehension reigned among the predominantly white bureaucrats as no one had an inkling of what to expect. Were they going to be kicked out without ceremony? Everyone was told to gather in a large circular conference room in the Union Buildings. Mandela entered with a friendly general greeting. As his next move was anxiously awaited, he drifted to one end of the room and started shaking hands with every single person present. All were greeted with his trademark, “How are you?” as he asked people who they were. Patiently, he moved around the entire room. Many a staffer who never had the opportunity to speak to a president was dumbfounded by the personal attention they received from the living legend. And apprehension turned to astonishment when he ended the meeting by seeking to assure those present not to worry about the future. (from an article written by Sapa)

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6. Dialogue from the documentary movie “Invictus”

Francois Pienaar: What's President Mandela like?
Bodyguard: When I worked for the previous President, it was my job to be invisible. This President... Well, he found out I like English toffee, and he brought me some back from his visit to England.

Television Reporter: Tell us Mr. President, have you always been a rugby fan?
Mandela: People don't realize that I played rugby myself when I was a student at Fort Hare. It is a very rough game, almost as rough as politics.

Bodyguard: Morning, sir.       
Mandela: How is your family, Hendrick?
Bodyguard: Top shape, sir. How about yours?
Mandela: I have a very large family. 42 million.

Mandela decided to go ask the new SA National Sports Council to reverse their unanimous vote of removing the Springbok name and emblem. Mandela’s
Chief of Staff tried to convince him not to go and said “You're risking your political capital, you're risking your future as our leader”. Mandela replied “The day I am afraid to do that, is the day I am no longer fit to lead.” After Mandela’s speech to the Council, they re-voted and they reversed their decision.

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7. Movies about Nelson Mandela

Invictus: Starring Morgan Freeman (Mandela) and Matt Damon.  The 2009 movie documents events in South Africa during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Freeman and Damon both received Oscar nominations.

Mandela and De Klerk: Starring Sidney Poitier (Mandela) and Michael Caine (FW De Klerk). The 1997 movie documents the end of apartheid and the release of Mandela. Poitier and Caine both received Emmy nominations.

Mandela: Starring Danny Glover (Mandela) and Alfre Woodard. The 1987 telefilm documents Mandala and the people around him during the struggle against oppression. Glover received an Emmy nomination.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: Starring Idris Elba (Mandela) and Naomie Harris. The 2013 biographical movie, based on Mandela's book “Long Walk to Freedom”, traces Mandela’s journey from childhood to president of South Africa. Elba received a Golden Globe nomination.

The Color of Freedom (aka Goodbye Bafana): Starring Dennis Haysbert (Mandela) and Joseph Fiennes. The 2007 movie centers on the relationship between Mandela and his prison guard.

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8. Mandela Books

Mandela wrote a few books, the most famous being “Long Walk to Freedom”, and of course many books have being written about Mandela. Below is our selection of online shops with links to thier list of Nelson Mandela books.

Online Shop County Link
Exclusive Books

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9. External Links

Nelson Mandela Foundation - Nelson Mandela Museum - Nelson Mandela: Brand South Africa - Wikipedia


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