Nelson Mandela: [reciting] Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole / I thanks whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable soul. / In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud / Under the bludgeonings of fate, my head is bloody, but unbowed. / Beyond this place of wrath and tears, looms but the horror of the shade / and yet, the menace of the years finds, and shall find me, unafraid. / It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll / I am the master of my fate - I am the captain of my soul.
Brenda Mazibuko: You're risking your political capital, you're risking your future as our leader.
Nelson Mandela: The day I am afraid to do that is the day I am no longer fit to lead.
Nelson Mandela: Forgiveness liberates the soul.
Nelson Mandela: It removes fear.
Nelson Mandela: That is why it is such a powerful weapon.
Nerine: Thinking about tomorrow?
Francois Pienaar: No. Tomorrow's taken care of, one way or another. I was thinking about how you spend 30 years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there.
Nelson Mandela: I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul. / I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul.
Francois Pienaar: Times change, we need to change as well.
[appearing at the South African Sports Committee, after they had elected to disband the Springbok rugby team]
Nelson Mandela: Brothers, sisters, comrades: I am here because I believe you have made a decision with insufficient information and foresight. I am aware of your earlier vote. I am aware that it was unanimous. Nonetheless, I believe we should restore the Springboks; restore their name, their emblem and their colors, immediately. Let me tell you why. On Robben Island, in Pollsmoor Prison, all of my jailers were Afrikaners. For 27 years, I studied them. I learned their language, read their books, their poetry. I had to know my enemy before I could prevail against him. And we DID prevail, did we not? All of us here... we prevailed. Our enemy is no longer the Afrikaner. They are our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy. And they treasure Springbok rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We prove that we are what they feared we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint and generosity; I know, all of the things they denied us. But this is no time to celebrate petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation using every single brick available to us, even if that brick comes wrapped in green and gold. You elected me your leader. Let me lead you now.
Nelson Mandela: I have a very large family, 42 million...
[observing an Afrikaans newspaper headline]
Jason Tshabalala: I wonder what it says...
Nelson Mandela: [reads the headline] "He may win an election, but can he run a country?"
Jason Tshabalala: Not even your first day on the job, and they're already after you.
Nelson Mandela: It's a legitimate question...
Francois Pienaar: I may break my arm, my leg, my neck, but I will not let that freaking guy go.
Nelson Mandela: How do you inspire your team to do their best?
Francois Pienaar: By example. I've always thought to lead by example, sir.
Nelson Mandela: Well, that is right. That is exactly right. But how do we get them to be better then they think they CAN be? That is very difficult, I find. Inspiration, perhaps. How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us? I sometimes think it is by using the work of others.
Nerine: [after Francois returns from his tea with President Mandela] So, what's he like?
Francois Pienaar: [pauses] He's unlike any person I've ever met.
Jason Tshabalala: There are four Special Branch cops in my office.
Nelson Mandela: Why, what did you do?
Nelson Mandela: [Pienaar just lead his team to an unexpected victory in the world cup. Mandela is presenting him with the trophy] Thank you for what you have done for your country.
Francois Pienaar: No, Mr. President. Thank *you*.
Nelson Mandela: [as match is about to begin] Perhaps we should make a little wager?
New Zealand PM: All your gold for all our sheep?
Nelson Mandela: Well, I was thinking more along the lines of a case of wine.
Nelson Mandela: You criticize without understanding. You seek only to address your own personal feelings. That is selfish thinking, Zindzi. It does not serve the nation.
Francois Pienaar: I've been invited to tea.
Nerine: With who?
Francois Pienaar: The President.
Mr. Pienaar: Who, President of the SA Rugby? Count your fingers...
Francois Pienaar: [pointing at the TV] No, the President.
Mr. Pienaar: [watching news reports of President Mandela's international visits] And in breaking news, President Mandela visits the nation of South Africa!
Francois Pienaar: Come boys. What the heck are we doing? Lomu is killing us. Forwards, we must start scrumming. We must disrupt them at the first phase. Can't allow Lomu to get the ball in space. He's freaking killing us. But listen, if Lomu gets the ball, whoever's there... James, Joost... hit the fucking guy, hold onto him, hold him. Help will come, help will be there.
Nelson Mandela: If I cannot change when circumstances demand it, how can I expect others to?
Nelson Mandela: The Rainbow Nation starts here. Reconciliation starts here.
High School Boy: [seeing passing motorcade] Who is it, sir?
High School Coach: It's the terrorist Mandela, they let him out. Remember this day boys, this is the day our country went to the dogs.
Television Announcer: Tell us Mr. President, have you always been a rugby fan?
Nelson Mandela: People don't realize that I played rugby myself when I was a student at Fort Hare. It is a very rough game, almost as rough as politics.
Hendrick Booyens: [This is likely an 'in' joke as Matt Damon said something similar when meeting Francois Pienaar for the first time] He's not as big as he looks on TV.