“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 to the court during the Rivonia trial, April, 20, 1964.
“I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by whites.” — statement to the court during the Rivonia trial, April, 20, 1964.
“I stand here before you not as a prophet but 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.” — addressing a crowd after his release from prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
“Let it never be said by future generations that indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us fail to live up to the ideals of humanism which the Nobel Peace Prize encapsulates.” on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 1993.
“The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us ... We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.” — at inauguration.
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” — from his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.”
“This is a war. It has killed more people than has been the case in all previous wars and in all previous natural disasters ... We must not continue to be debating, to be arguing, when people are dying.” — Mandela on AIDS.