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"My greatest regret in life is that I never became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world."
"I can't call him Thabo. I call him Mr President." -- About his successor, President Thabo Mbeki.
"You won't feel humiliated, will you? If you shake my hand, you'll make my day." -- Insisting on shaking the hands of about 30 Norwood Primary choir members who sang for him on his 83rd birthday in 2001.
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are." -- Singing to children at a hospital in 2001.
"I have said that while I support you as a government, we must deal with the perception rightly or wrongly that we are insensitive to thousands of babies dying every month." -- About HIV/Aids in 2002.
"We have called you today to announce that my son has died of Aids." --January 2005, to reporters after the death of his only surviving son, Makgatho.
"This is a war. It has killed more people than has been the case in all previous wars and in all previous natural disasters. We must not continue to be debating, to be arguing, when people are dying." -- On HIV/Aids.
"In this century, millions of people in the world's poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free." -- Addressing a rally in London in February 2005, where he likened poverty to apartheid and slavery.
"...The difficulty with the president is that he is busy with Africa and countries beyond. As a result he cannot concentrate on the problems of this country because he has got these duties as well, which are absolutely necessary." -- Denying that he criticised President Thabo Mbeki for his handling of the Aids issue.
"He (President Thabo Mbeki) is a very clever young man. There is no previous prime minister or president of this country that has done a better job... Now people are going to begin to appreciate him." --Welcoming the government's turnaround in its Aids policy in 2002.
"It's no use crying over spilt milk... I had no time... I had to concern myself with nation-building." -- Admitting he might have failed the country by not doing more to counter the HIV/Aids pandemic during his term in office.
"It starkly reminded us again of the depth to which we can sink in our inhumanity towards one another." -- In a joint statement with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates FW de Klerk and Desmond Tutu about the attacks on United States targets on September 11, 2001.
"It would be disastrous if the president gave in to the call that the army must now withdraw before he has actually flushed out the terrorists... I support him to continue until those terrorists have been tracked down." -- Speaking in support of the United States-led campaign in Afghanistan, after meeting US President George W Bush in November 2001.
"The US thinks it is the only power in the world and that's why it can execute its dangerous foreign policy." -- On the US' plans to invade Iraq in 2003.
"I have no influence, so I can speak my mind." -- About the threatening US attack on Iraq in 2003.
"I would have wished somebody would talk to him to say, 'look, you have been in office for 20 years, it's time to step down'." -- Referring to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 2000.
"Nobody knows when they are going to die. Even though I am an old man I do not dwell on the possibility of death. Death comes when it is ready." -- Three days before it was announced that he had been diagnosed with microscopic prostate cancer in 2001.
"She says: 'You have been loafing for 27 years. Now you must do some work.'"-- Blaming his assistant, Zelda la Grange, for the fact that he was still so active at 83.
"I now know that when my time comes, Walter will be there to meet me, and I am almost certain he will hold out an enrolment form to register me into the ANC in that world, cajoling me with one of his favourite songs we sang when mobilising people behind the Freedom Charter..." -- On the death of struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu in 2003.
"I do not intend to hide away totally from the public, but henceforth I want to be in the position of calling you to ask whether I would be welcome, rather than being called upon to do things and participate in events. The appeal therefore is: don't call me, I'll call you." --Announcing his retirement from public life in June 2004.
"I'm confident that nobody present here today will accuse me of selfishness if I asked to spend time, while I'm still in good health, with my family, my friends and also with myself." -- Announcing his retirement from public life in June 2004.
"Thank you very much for your attention and for being kind to an old man -- allowing him to take a rest, even if many of you may feel that after loafing somewhere on an island and other places for 27 years, the rest is not really deserved." -- Announcing his retirement from public life in June 2004.
"I don't know if I'll ever die. There is that possibility. If that happens I'll move to the next world... and the first thing I'll look for will be the nearest branch of the ANC."
"At least we have the right to get drunk." -- After South Africa failed in 2000 to clinch the 2006 soccer World Cup tournament.
"I voted for South Africa." -- Asked which party got his vote in the 2000 local government elections.