Sisonke Msimang in 10 Quotes

Blog100 / By ZAM Reporter
Sisonke Msimang in 10 Quotes Photo | Sander Stoepker

Zwarte Piet

“I greet you all in the name of Zwarte Piet. He asked me to give you a message. After 200 years he is tired and would like to retire. He says he’d never liked kids, he hates the noise and parties and he would like to be left in peace. In fact he is considering euthanasia.”


“I grew up in many different countries, part of the ANC community in exile. We sang freedom songs about Mandela and Sisulu and Mbeki (…). I owe my sense of self-belief to that community, to the adults I grew up with who taught me that I was as good as anyone else in the world.”


“Some students accused Nelson Mandela of betraying the revolution. They called him a sell-out. (…) I am not old enough to have fought for freedom but I am old enough to remember Mandela. I know that he was not a sell-out.”


“Today, forgiveness is seen as the central component of Mandela’s legacy. I must confess that this irritates me greatly. Worse, I think this excessive focus on forgiveness diminishes his political legacy and blunts his power.”


“It is impossible to write Winnie out of our history, and it is even more difficult to write her out of Madiba’s heart.”

Truth & Reconciliation

“We were supposed to be healed and it is hard for the world to accept that for all its efforts, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee was an incomplete, uneven and often devastating process.”

White People 1

“White people in all context where historical wrongs have been carried out, must learn that black people’s lives do not centre around their feelings.”

White People 2

“Mandela’s approach of appeasing white anxiety again was strategic. He wasn’t just in love with white peple – he was managing them. (…) He was appeasing whites and I can’t fault him. He was right because he understood their capacity to violence.”

Principles & Compromises

“Today, we live in a world where politicians refuse to make political compromises and where too few have political principles. Mandela had both.”

You need Mandela

“Here too, in the Netherlands in the last few days, I have seen that you need Mandela. I have spoken to friends in the black community, and to activists organising to make this society more just, less defensive and more open."

Watch full speech here.