Let FREEDOM reign! Understanding freedom through 10 Nelson Mandela quotes

Freedom mattered to Nelson Mandela and it must matter to us if we want to build a truly new South Africa.

Freedom mattered to Nelson Mandela. For all his flaws as a man and a politician, there is a lot to admire about Madiba’s grasp of what freedom means and what a country enjoying freedom looks like.

The ANC of today might not have the trust of the people it once held, but for the vast majority of South Africans of all backgrounds Mandela remains a symbol of what can be achieved through reconciliation and a shared pursuit of freedom.

  1. “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”
  1. “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.”
  1. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
  1. “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 than its opposite.”
  1. “I detest racialism because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.”
  1. “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
  1. “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection of the Constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”
  1. “Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual.”
  1. “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”
  1. “In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.”

While South Africa is going through difficult times – with power cuts and job cuts causing a lot of pain – it is important to remember that freedom can be achieved against the odds, but that it can never be taken for granted. For all the mistakes made during Mandela’s time as president of South Africa, for many of which we are now paying the costs, it must be remembered that Mandela understood that his country needed a leader to put into plain words the meaning of a united country striving and working together for freedom. For about ten years after the 1994 elections, South Africans saw and experienced the potential that non-racial freedom might bring, socially and economically.

South Africa’s experience mirrors that of countries around the world and throughout history: when freedom is cherished, promoted, and protected, life gets better. Freedom mattered to Nelson Mandela and it must matter to us if we want to build a truly new South Africa.