19 Quotes from Nelson Mandela to Educate Children on Peace

These quotes by Nelson Mandela will help you instill in your children the values of peace, humility, and freedom. Discover what they are.
19 Quotes from Nelson Mandela to Educate Children on Peace
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 26 March, 2023

Our children do not live in a bubble. Rather, they inhabit a world that they must understand. Therefore, knowing the history of humanity, developing critical thinking, and establishing a series of personal values is fundamental to their education. To achieve this goal, we can make use of famous figures who made great contributions in their context. For example, Nelson Mandela, the legendary human rights activist, who left us important phrases like the ones we’re about to present.

Nelson Mandela became the first black president elected in South Africa, demonstrated an incorruptible ethic, and focused on relevant values such as equality, humility, and education. All his achievements were based on a peaceful revolution and marked a before and after in the history of humanity.

For the same reason, he’s one of the best references you can talk about with your children. With that in mind, we want to offer you some of his most memorable quotes.

1. “The greatest glory is not to fall, but to always get up”

Throughout life, we fail and fall on multiple occasions because making mistakes is natural and human. Therefore, make sure your children have a spirit of self-improvement that allows them to shake off the dust and continue learning from each experience.

2. “No country can develop unless its citizens are educated”

Many children don’t want to go to school. However, they should know that education is a right and a privilege that enriches them as individuals and opens doors to the world. It’s knowledge that allows us to advance individually and as a society.

A teacher and elementary students looking at a globe.

3. “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”

Feeling fear isn’t shameful, as we’re all afraid of something. However, courageous is the one who decides to take a risk, overcome, and move forward, even if it’s with fear in hand. Teach your children not to be paralyzed by this emotion.

4. “Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening”

Authenticity is one of the greatest treasures we possess. Children should learn that they shouldn’t change their qualities to please anyone because they and their opinions are worthy and valuable in and of themselves.

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

The rejection we feel toward other people is often based on unfounded prejudices. Teach your children to get to know someone well before judging them, and to look for common ground with those they feel are different.

6. “Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake”

Humility makes us great because it allows us to improve day by day. Recognizing a mistake doesn’t make you weak but, rather, wise, noble, and mature.

7. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do”

Believing in oneself is fundamental to achieving happiness and success. Children should grow up with the certainty that perseverance and motivation can take them as far as they want to go.

8. “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon”

Grudges and resentment damage the heart. By forgiving, we free ourselves from burdens and are more at peace.

9. “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me”

We should all seek the freedom of and respect for every person, even if their struggle isn’t our own. Denying someone their rights because they’re different from us only reflects our bitterness and fear.

10. “Difficulties break some men but make others”

Behind every adversity lies a lesson, as long as we’re willing to learn it. Every experience in our lives makes us an improved version of ourselves.

11. “I have never regarded any man as my superior, either in my life outside or inside prison”

Just as we must not discriminate against anyone, we must not allow ourselves to be assaulted or disrespected.

For this reason, help your children to recognize their value from an early age so that they don’t allow anyone to put their integrity at risk.

12. “I am the captain of my soul”

This is one of Nelson Mandela’s most representative phrases. It reminds us that each person is the master of their destiny and shouldn’t yield their power to anyone else. Being true to oneself is the most direct path to fulfillment.

13. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

Courage, optimism, and authenticity are contagious. Let your children know that by their example, they can inspire others to overcome their fears and achieve their dreams.

14. “I didn’t want to be presented in a way that omits the dark spots in my life”

Pretending to be perfect and denying our mistakes isn’t a good attitude. We must accept ourselves as we are and accept our story as it happened. After all, this is what makes us who we are today.

15. “The purpose of freedom is to create it for others”

We mustn’t only protect our right to express ourselves but also see to it that everyone around us can enjoy it as well. Freedom isn’t selfish, it is solidarity.

Children standing in a circle making a peace sign with their hands, with the tips of their fingers united to create a circle.

16. “You can start changing our world for the better daily, no matter how small the action”

Remind your children that they can influence the world through small daily actions. Their decisions and behaviors are important and, therefore, they have to choose them well.

17. “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up”

Let children know that they can achieve their goals without resorting to violence. They just need to make use of hope and determination, as Nelson Mandela himself did in his struggle.

18. “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”

Only a noble heart that has suffered greatly for many long years with the unwavering dream and hopes that its people will live in peace and freedom can utter such a humble and dignified phrase without resentment. Words that heal and reconcile, that become a common project and home for all, beyond any differences.

19. “Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet”

We close these memorable quotes with the last sentence from the speech delivered by Madiba (the nickname with which the elders of his clan honored Nelson Mandela) during the presentation of the Planet and Humanity Award, conferred in Durban, on August 4, 2002.

As parents, we have a great responsibility, not only to raise our children in the best possible way, but also to do everything in our power to leave them and our grandchildren a planet where life is still possible.

Nelson Mandela, an example of wisdom reflected in his phrases

As you can see, Nelson Mandela’s phrases contain great and valuable teachings. Don’t hesitate to explain to your children and tell them who he was and how he contributed to world peace.

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