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Oratory: Nelson Mandela's finest speeches

Nelson Mandela was one of the most stirring speakers of the modern era. Here are some of his most memorable words:

Nelson Mandela before the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final in Johannesburg
Nelson Mandela before the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final in Johannesburg

:: "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 from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial, April 1964.

:: "I am your servant, I don't come to you as a leader, as one above others" - Speech announcing the ANC election victory, May 1994.

:: "We have travelled too far along the road to freedom to turn back now. We shall not be deterred by the threats or the actions of the forces of the past. Our people have the right to hope, the right to a future, the right to life itself. No power on this earth can destroy the thirst for human dignity" - Statement after the Bisho massacre, September 1992.

:: "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign" - Inauguration speech as President of South Africa, May 1994.

:: "There are times when my heart almost stops beating, slowed down by heavy loads of longing. I would love to bathe once more in the waters of Umbashe, as I did at the beginning of 1935" - Letter from Robben Island, April 1971.

:: "The white man makes all the laws, he drags us before his courts and accuses us, and he sits in judgment over us" - Court statement, October 1962.

:: "I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man" - Speaking while conducting his own defence after being charged with illegally exiting South Africa, October 1962.

:: "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children" - Speech at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, May 1995.

:: "This is for all South Africans, an unforgettable occasion. It is the realisation of hopes and dreams that we have cherished over decades. The dreams of a South Africa which represents all South Africans. It is the beginning of a new era. We have moved from an era of pessimism, division, limited opportunities, turmoil and conflict. We are starting a new era of hope, reconciliation and nation building" - Statement after voting in South Africa's first democratic election, April 1994.

:: "Your right to determine your own destiny was used to deny us to determine our own."

Speech to British MPs in the House of Commons, London, May, 1993

:: "Unite! Mobilise! Fight on! Between the anvil of united mass action and the hammer of the armed struggle we shall crush apartheid and white minority racist rule" - Statement issued by Mandela via the ANC after the Soweto uprising of 1976.

:: "The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days" - Press statement, 1961.

:: "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb" - From Mandela's autobiography, The Long Walk To Freedom, 1994.

:: "The cameras started clicking like a great herd of metallic beasts. I raised my right fist and there was a roar. I had not been able to do that for 27 years and it gave me a surge of strength and joy" - Describing his release from prison in The Long Walk To Freedom, 1994.

:: "One of the greatest challenges we face is gaping - and growing - disparities in the response to HIV between countries and regions around the world. Aids-related stigma and discrimination is pervasive and a real barrier to stopping the expansion of this disease. The vast majority of the 40 million estimated people living with HIV are unaware of their status. Fear of being stigmatised is a great factor. It requires bold and visible action by top leadership - at all levels of society - to root out this deadly form of discrimination" - World Aids Day Message, 2006.

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