Nelson Mandela and Oprah

Photo: Louise Gubb

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Nelson Mandela
April 2001

Oprah: You became even more disciplined in prison than you had been before, studying regularly and encouraging your colleagues to study. Why?

Nelson Mandela: I knew we could improve our lives even in jail. We could come out as different men, and we could even come out with two degrees. Educating ourselves was a way to give ourselves the most powerful weapon for freedom.

OW: Did you come out a wiser man?

NM: All I can say is that I was less foolish than I was when I went in. I equipped myself by reading literature, especially classic novels such as The Grapes of Wrath.

OW: That's one of my favorite books.

NM: When I closed that book, I was a different man. It enriched my powers of thinking and discipline, and my relationships. I left prison more informed than when I went in. And the more informed you are, the less arrogant and aggressive you are.

Read the full interview from the April 2001 issue.