Marianne Williamson’s famous Quote… mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela is the address where I found at last, just this morning, the correct information about a famous quote I personally love; it is all very nicely explained in the following article:


“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This passage is commonly mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Address.

It actually comes from the book ‘A Return To Love’ (1992) by Marianne Williamson



I created the original version of this page more than eight years ago on one of Yahoo’s (now defunct) free-hosted “Geocities” web sites:

At the time, nearly every web site sharing the “Our deepest fear..” quote on the internet cited “Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Address” as its source.

[ It almost seemed as if the only people aware that this was a false attribution were Nelson Mandela, Marianne Williamson, and those who had actually read her book!  ]

Over the years since then, many of those web sites have correctly re-attributed the quote (- often, in the process, kindly referencing this particular page).

Though, the internet being what it is, misinformation continues to spread in the blink of an eye, and the myth about Mandela and the quote is still very much alive and well.

I often receive emails about this page.
Some people simply voicing their surprise that the myth is so wide-spread;
some asking if I am sure I’ve got my facts right;
and on occasion, one or two verging on the hostile – demanding to know why I would pretend that the words weren’t Nelson Mandelas – why I would fabricate such misinformation, and why I should wish to dis-respect Nelson Mandela in this way !!

To be absolutely clear:

The  “Our deepest fear..” quote was not written by Nelson Mandela
Nor was it written by a speech-writer for Nelson Mandela

It was not used – as the myth would have it – “by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inaugural Address”

In fact, even the reference to Nelson Mandela’s “Inaugural Address” (i.e. Inaugural Speech) is itself somewhat incorrect.

Nelson Mandela actually gave two Inaugural Addresses/Speeches:

the first, on 9th May 1994 at Cape Town   – see here

the second,  on 10th May 1994 at Pretoria  – see here

And, as can clearly be seen from the transcripts, the ” Our deepest fear…” quote is not to be found in either of them.


“Several years ago, this paragraph from A RETURN TO LOVE began popping up everywhere, attributed to Nelson Mandela’s l994 Inaugural Address. As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people.”

Marianne Williamson



Quote from the Official Mandela web-site:

“Even long after his official ‘retirement from retirement’ announcement on 1 June 2004, when he famously said, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you”, we, at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, still process thousands of requests for the authentication of quotations.

We found that many of these, often lifted from websites purporting to contain accurate information about Mandela, were not correct. One of the main ‘quotes’ by which Mandela is misquoted contains, in actual fact, the words of American author Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles. She wrote: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” This quote, and especially Williamson’s closing words, “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”, are often incorrectly credited to Mandela.”


After reading this, I felt like looking at some pictures of this lady, Marianne Williamson, who wrote the incredibly inspired and inspiring lines that deservedly became so famous… As a proper ending for this little tribute of mine to her and her writing, I’ll now share one of these pictures of her with you as well:


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