But Really ...
Loath as we are to reveal Clinton's white belt in Google-fu, Nelson Mandela never uttered these words. The quote actually comes from a self-help book by Marianne Williamson called A Return to Love. Williamson, it turns out, is a new age guru whose brand of schmaltzy love-yourself advice earned her a place among Oprah's all-time favorite bullshitters. Attributing this quote to Mandela is like attributing a passage from The Secret to Gandhi.
He did preach a good two-thirds of Eat, Pray, Love.
The misattribution of this quote is so frequent that the folks at the Nelson Mandela Foundation have included it in the FAQ about Mandela in a desperate attempt to keep themselves from tearing their handsome salt-and-pepper hair out. Even the South African Embassy in D.C. has had to waste their time clearing the confusion up a few times since Mandela's inauguration in '94.
We're sure Williamson doesn't mind all the free publicity that comes with the everlasting confusion. She once said, "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." Nice sentiment!
Mandela himself might not have shared it, though. When promoting the official book of Nelson Mandela quotes, the Nelson Mandela Foundation started out by saying, "Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is one of the most quoted -- and misquoted -- people in the world. This is ironic given that for much of his adult life he could not be quoted at all."
That's the politest "Up yours, hippie" we've ever read.