Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu

No Flies on Us

“No Flies on Us”. © Grapevinepostcards


July 26, 2008: Last week saw the birthday of Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the former president of South Africa . He  reached the impressive age of 90 years and is still healthy enough to travel internationally. I spent my youth in South Africa and as a child I lived in a town close to the area where he grew up. As a celebration of his wisdom and leadership, and in acknowledgement of the positive influence he has had on my life, I have selected a few relevant quotes by the great Freedom Walker himself.

A traveller through our country would stop at a village, and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but Ubuntu has various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to improve?”

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”

“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.”

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“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.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

“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.”

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Quotes selected by Jean-Jacques

Ubuntu is an African philosophy and is a Zulu word which means Humanity.

Ubuntu is also the name of an open source Linux operating system, spearheaded by Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur.



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13 Responses to “Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu”

  1. Michelle says:

    I love the quotes. Going to save them. 🙂

  2. gypsycafe says:

    This is my favourite: “When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.” 🙂

  3. Hayden says:

    wonderful quotes. much to think about here.

  4. Hayden says:

    hello, tried to email but am not a member of woomail, so will respond to your comment on my blog (the post colors) as I should have ages ago!

  5. rooshkie says:

    Great quotes – am stealing (!!) the last 3. Thanks.

  6. rooshkie says:

    The one about places remaining unaltered when you HAVE altered really resonates… I remember a friend in Sydney saying to me… after I’d been living in the UK for 13 years… “You’ve changed”… it was a sort of gentle criticism… I wanted to say, “Of course I have, my life is completely different to what it was in Sydney 13 years ago, and I am a different person, but yours is the same”… but bit my tongue, whilst mentally repeating the mantra “honesty WITH kindness…. honesty WITH kindness…”

    • Thanks for your comments! These quotes by Mr Mandela really resonates for us who have traveled extensively. I think people can find it hard sometimes to deal with returning travellers, because they can sense the change in the person who had been away – not everyone can deal with that.

      The tricky part for me initially (during the early days/daze…) was “to retain what I had gained”, because we tend to settle back in again and initially I think we also tend to (want to) “re-fit in”, because we don’t want to alienate our friends too much.

      I found that each destination brought different elements of my character out – I was challenged in different ways than I would ever have been “back home”.

      Over time, after having travelled so much, I stopped adjusting on return. (People have to adjust to me – or not). I’m just the me I would never have been if I had not travelled much. That’s probably the whole reason why us nomads travel so extensively after all…

      I think I’m now entering “the travel for pure enjoyment rather than for development stage” (however Ireland recently challenged me in ways which I though I would not have to “go through” again, Ireland’s quite different from the UK in some ways – I’d say it’s a “hard place”…), but I think we will always, always grow from the experience/s.

      You’ve gotta LOVE TRAVEL, bit it’s not always for the faint-hearted.

  7. rooshkie says:

    Good answer !! I think your ability to empathise with those “left behind” so to speak, is greater than mine. TBH I never really considered that anyone would feel alienated by my having widened my horizons. Interesting point. I also don’t think I ever tried too hard to “re-fit”… I didn’t want to. Agree with different places / experiences creating challenges very different to those that might have been encountered had one stayed put. Like the use of ‘Daze’… I use it for my To Do List – “Too Daze Things to do.” Yes, I have a To Do List – Nomadic and slightly obsessive about order – are these things mutually incompatible ? I think not. x.

    • Yes, I think it’s not so much that I empathised with them, but that I noticed a certain insecurity within people who were faced with a returning “world-weary” traveller. South Africa in the late 90’s was still an insular (and conservative) place and a returning Saffa with a full-on “Pom accent”, complimented with a London stride didn’t go down too well (with all the mates) back then. I think being from British descent (I’m from French & Dutch) that might not have been much of an issue on your side, because your are already (half-a) pommie either way… ;-).

      See here:

      “Nomadic and slightly obsessive about order – are these things mutually incompatible ? I think not.”

      No, I don’t think so either. You’re probably just a more organized traveler.

      “Too Daze Things to do.” Yup, it’s all in a daze work… 🙂

      • Ha ha… Half a Pommie – I like it. I’m 3/4 a Pommie actually, but my Dad will never admit to being half English – he’s fervently Irish !!!! To be sure.

        Being any kind of Pommie in Australia in the 80’s was a problem… Pommie bashing (verbally I mean) was a National Sport here… they’ve had to stop because I think there are more Poms in Sydney now than Dinky Di Ozzies!!

        Hurrah I say… the more the merrier… it’s the second British Invasion of Australia. We come for the sunshine, and then we stay for the sunshine.

        Here’s an Aussie joke about Poms… (use your best Aussie accent)…

        Where does a Pommie keep his money ???

        (I don’t know, where DOES a Pommie keep his money)

        UNDER THE SOAP… ha ha ha ha ha.



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