Nelson Mandela


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 and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. 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.

Marianne Williamson

Quoted by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural address

Click here to access the New York Times webpage and learn something about Nelson Mandela.  Watch the videos, read the timereferences and most of all make some notes.  In class we will work together on the key moments of his life.

The interactive timeline may appeal to you too.

Before we start investigating this great heroic figure, we need to understand what Apartheid was and see that racial segregation did not exist in South Africa only, in the United States there were the Jim Crow Laws.

Gary Younge remembers the ecstatic reaction of ordinary voters to Nelson Mandela in 1994 on the campaign trail in South Africa’s first democratic general election. He considers Mandela’s emblematic status in the anti-apartheid movement; his role in the foundation of post-apartheid South Africa; and his status as one of the most transformative politicians of the 20th century.

The Sharpeville Massacre

On 21 March 1960 at least 180 people were injured and 69 killed when South African police opened fire on approximately 300 demonstrators, who were protesting against the pass laws, at the township of Sharpeville, near Vereeniging in the Transvaal. The Sharpeville Massacre, as the event has become known, signaled the start of armed resistance in South Africa, and prompted worldwide condemnation of South Africa’s Apartheid policies.
In 1996, on the 26th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, Nelson Mandela chose Sharpeville as the site to announce the signing of the new democratic constitution. The day is now commemorated as South Africa’s Human Rights Day.

Listening to his words of wisdom can teach us all so much, his words can definitely change us for the better!

Extracts from Nelson Mandela’s statement from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage at the supreme court of South Africa in Pretoria on 20 April 1964.

An ideal for which I am prepared to die



Maya Angelou, who knew Mandela when she lived in Africa, was asked by the State Department to write a tribute to that country’s first black president and international civil rights leader as his health was failing.  The State Department unveiled the tribute poem, “His Day is Done,”  written by Angelou for Mandela “on behalf of the American people.”  They first met in 1962 before he was imprisoned. “Yes, Mandela’s day is done,” Angelou said. “Yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation. And we will respond generously to the cries of blacks and whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.”


Below is the video released by the State Department.

Click here to read the poem


Now you write your own poem, inspired by the images, videos you watched, by the articles you read.

This is my poem:

Addressing Madiba

You appear to me as an iconic figure

The epitome of resilience

The symbol of hope

The embodiment of forgiveness, understanding and love

Your words made me, a white Italian woman

feel engrossed with new energy after having read your books

I owe you a lot

I am indebted to you as a teacher and as a human being

You taught how brutally crippling the boundaries of the mind are

They lead to the boundaries of the heart

You made me feel less lonely

You made me feel understood

You made me feel human and proud to be so

You made me realize how important it is

Not to take humanity for granted

Human Beings can achieve great things

You are a living proof of this

But they can regress in a state of terrifying beast-like brutality

Plunging humanity back into cultural and moral primitivism

M.ulling over my existence

A.ssessing the role I have played so far on this planet

D.etermined to fight back prejudice, compliance, shallowness to remain human

I.ndignant of the abuse of power

B.affled by sweeping selfish indifference

A.ching for the so many usurpations of human rights in our world

I kneel and in somber hope I pray for more Mandelas to come

Thank you MADIBA

Long live your memory

Long live your efforts

Long live all the South African people who suffered at the hands of a blind and brutish segregation system.

This is a video I found on the Economist webpage, a video whose poetic quality struck me. The way it pays tribute to Nelson Mandela is so powerful that I cannot possibly avoid posting it.

Listen and read Barack Obama’s memorial speech and take notes of the passages that “touch” your mind and your heart.  You can read the full speech if you wish to, should you find it difficult to follow Obama without.  I wish you all a “oneness to humanity”, I wish the word “ubuntu” can lead us all to a new moral rebirth.  Madiba the free could help us free ourselves with our own limits and contradictions.  I hope he will inspire you and change you as much as he did me.  He promped in me a time for selfreflection.  I am not proud with my own life at all, I ask myself this question as a woman and as a teacher.  I know I can do more and I should do more to promote a better way of living our globe, to live in understanding, sharing and friendship.  It is difficult because we are surrounded by greed and individualism that blind us to the point we are not aware we are enslaved to the scary “me, myself and I”.  Let your voices be heard, make a change for the better, be the male and female extention of Nelson Mandela.  We can choose to define a world defined by peace and opportunity.

You may want to listen to other words Barack Obama spoke in commemoration of Nelson Mandela.

You listened to Barack Obama’s words of tribute, you read Maya Angelou’s poem, you can read tons of words of gratitude addressed to Mandela on the web.  Write your letter to him in which you express your ideas as to the impact his ideas and actions may have had on you, the way his example may shape and influence who you are and will become as a man or a woman.

Nelson Mandela held his Nobel Lecture on 10 December 1993, in the Oslo City Hall, Norway.  The transcript will help you.

Writers, Journalists, Film Directors, Singers tried to do their part in their struggle against Apartheid and in their commemoration of Nelson Mandela.

Music can be a wondeful medium to raise people’s consciousness and bring to the forefront the contradictions and hypocrisy of a deplorable system of segregation.

Listen to the song dedicated to Biko and find out who he was.

Choose one of the following films and be prepared to present it to the rest of the class. Select interesting passages. You will have 15 minutes for your presentation. You could use an alternative way to the “traditional” powerpoint presentation. You could use

“Invictus” is a short Victorian poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). It was written in 1875 and published in 1888 in his first volume of poems, Book of Verses.  The title means “never defeated”.  The poem was used by Nelson Mandela in his prison years to soothe his imprisonment under the appalling laws of Apartheid.  This is the reason why the 2009 film directed by Clint Eastwood has this title.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever god may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced not cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.





What do you expect the latest film based on Nelson Mandela’s biography “Long walk to freedom” to be like?

What about the film based on a true story: “The Butler”?  It covers the years from slavery, to racial segregation (the Jim Crow Laws) to Barack Obama’s election.  Really worth watching.

Alice Walker, an American author and activist, wrote the following comments about the film:

Lee Daniels’ The Butler was received in my neighborhood by a packed house, all colors and kinds […].  At the end, there was a rousing, heartfelt offering of applause.   The enthusiasm is well deserved because the acting, everyone’s acting, is superb.  Superb also is the courage to depict realities in our past that don’t often, if ever, make it to consciousness, not to mention to the screen.  For example, there is that haunting early scene in which the son of the plantation owner […] rapes his pale skinned sister, who happens to be the mother of Cecil Gaines, the butler-to-be.  When her husband, prodded to make a stand by his young son, utters a single sound about what has happened, the white man, clearly a sociopathic crazy person as many slave owners and over-seers of slaves and later of sharecroppers had to be, shoots him dead.

This reminded me of a story my mother told me very late in her life; late, because it was apparently an unspoken rule among many Southern black people not to talk about white people, at all, especially to their children.  It was about how she and her five sisters avoided being raped by white men on their way to or from church. It was understood that her six brothers, who walked beside them, could not protect them.  For the same reason young Cecil Gaines’ father was afraid to protest the abuse of his wife.  So what did my mother and her sisters do:  they peeled off in different directions and outran their would-be rapists, who were often on horseback. I’m sure neither you nor I wish to think of this.

A couple of years ago I was part of a Freedom Flotilla that attempted to bring aid and expressions of caring to the blockaded people of Gaza.  We were turned back by armed commandos of the Greek coast guard.  An artist on our boat had made caps for us to wear that had the words STAY HUMAN printed on them.  The ability of our parents and grandparents, our ancestors, to stay human in situations where it would have made more sense to go mad, strikes me often as miraculous.  But yes, they stayed human.  That is what the butler did. (source:

This is the reason why I decided to work on Apartheid and racial discrimination with you.  I want to stay human.  I would love you to stay human.  Surrounded by lots of students who simply do not care, surrounded by a few who when I uttered the word “Apartheid” looked at me as if I had mentioned a neologism, I realized that it is paramount for me as a teacher to withstand the new wave of cultural analphabetism and human indifference.  I will fight back this loathsome state  of apathy, this lack of empathy, and borrowing from Nelson Mandela’s words, I cry out: “this is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.

Look at Emanuele and Matteo’s prezi presentation on the film “Mandela and De Klerk”:

Another intersting prezi presentation done by some students of a colleague of mine, really worth looking at:

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78 Responses to Nelson Mandela

  1. MartinaBravin says:

    Dear Mandela
    I’m a young Italian girl and when I was born you have just reached one of your huge aims, to have the same right of voting for black people. So you had have become the first black president of South African Republic.
    I always thought you and your country were a far reality from me, but now I have realized that racism is a so actual theme in Italy, despite our democratic constitution and our harsh past of persecution by Nazi and Fascist regime.
    Integration among people from different culture is not so entrenched, in fact prejudices are surviving especially against people that belong to religions diverging from Christianity and that come from poorer countries than Italy.
    Few people remember that also Italian community emigrated in the early years of the 19th ,but if we observe better our current situation, we could realize that also today we are emigrates in other European country. And so I have reflected how I could feel in a foreign country, how emigrates could fell in our country, but above all how you could fell in your country, where you were a native but a foreigner has forced you to feel misplaced.
    I have recognized into immigrants’ eyes the same hope and faith that moved you in your struggle for a better life and for more consideration by Whites. I don’t know if all actual immigrants know you but I’m sure that, especially African people, know and had that spirit of solidarity and that bravery that animated your soul.
    You were a little ray of hope, but you won for all Africans and you have taught me to never give up in front of difficulties, because we can do everything when we pursue right ideals and the sense of justice. We have to prepare also to die for an ideal, in front of the apathy and nihilism of our society.
    We have to be the “invictus” as you Madiba. I have to thank you because you have opened doors to do changes all over the world.
    Now a black American president can thank you for the chance to govern in a one of the most racist state of the recent past, birthplace of Ku Klux Klan.
    But also a little Italian girl can thank you for the possibility you have given her to experience new customs, cultures and a best way to think social life.
    Now I feel as an harmony part of the entire world, into communion with it.
    Besides how Barack Obama has said in your valediction, I could search for your strength in my daily routines, where I often believed that some obstacles are biggest to be faced.
    Last but not least thing I have learnt from you is certainly that to be a value person, with success, doesn’t matter what I have, how money I earn and how people consider me, because if I want I can be and do everything, when I believe in myself and in the relationships that I have established with others.
    Thank you Nelson, you will remain the light that inspired our world especially now that you see us from the haven, the leader or pushovers and an example of justice for mighty.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      What a deep letter Martina! You make me proud of you. Mandela’s touched your deeply and your words touched me. Mandela, from up above (as you point out) is certainly watching us all and he is certainly smiling at you. His strength touched you, your letter along with the letters of your classmates, would certainly reinforce his strength and the belief that his personal sacrifice was worthwhile.

  2. Francesca Lovisa says:

    Dear Nelson Mandela,
    I write to you, a man who lived his whole life following his principles and ideals. You spent all your life trying to overcome prejudices given by the demanded superiority of the white “race”.
    What do we live for? For some people the answer is life itself with its mysteries. What do you think? Between defeats, errors, making breakthroughs you showed that the walk towards personal freedom for victims of racial discrimination is long and tough.
    Today very few people consider themselves racist, we are all sympathetic and ready to understand yet the definitive destruction of prejudice against skin colour is still almost an utopia.
    You created the occasion for us to listen the opinions of the oppressed and by exposing yours you demonstrated how numerous are the similarities between men beyond the colour of their skin.
    Your heavy moral legacy now lives through us, we will keep standing for your ideals, trying to make the world a better place.
    You will always live within those who keep fighting for justice.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Mandela fought for equal opportunities, he fought for human rights. Equal opportunities and equal rights are hard to achieve, but not impossible (as he is proof of). He kept fighting for this belief and he won. As you point out: Mandela will be the moral leader and example for those who fight for justice and I am sure you are among them.

  3. Luana says:


    Dear Nelson Mandela,
    I admire you.
    I think that you are a symbol of hope, a point of reference for all those who are in a time when they do not see to their own lives. Many of us lose hope in front of small things, but you, Madiba, you did not break down left by the long years of captivity, we’re also for those who have lost hope and the strength to fight, who are no longer able to practice solidarity.
    Your captivity was certainly an oblivion for your desire to affirm the equal sign of the rights to your people, the colored. Them. Those that society has always considered inept , an object, a symbol of their power. You wanted to end this . You did it , although it is always a struggle to be able to change the mind of those who are fully convinced cha is only his word to have a weight. You managed to hit and knock down the walls of white society in South Africa demonstrating to them as a leader who is their equal , even superior in terms of emotional , empathetic .
    Anyone would be crashed out from that experience, but you have the strength, despite the seventy years that you were at the time of your liberation, to fight and lead your people to victory against racism and the infamous regime dell’apatheid. The apatheid was the disaster that has allowed you to understand your value as a man.
    Be was, unfortunately, a bad father to your children, but you have been the natural father, the wing protettric for the entire South African nation, and then be able to do so for the whole world.
    But I think anyone who reads your story will find strength and hope and resignation that exceed that sometimes paralyzes us . Your life teaches that violence serves no purpose . It teaches that justice is stated , as well as the passion , patience , dedication and intelligence. I would like to see more people participating and not resigned , many more people , who like you and your people are united in pursuing those values ​​of solidarity , equality , freedom and brotherhood which all too often are forgotten . I sincerely hope that the example of your life will inspire reflection, dialogue , want to change . I hope , dear Madiba , that tomorrow is indeed another day , and if that will happen , it will be because , despite what some would have us believe , and you’re not dead , but … are always with us. You will always be in our heart of humanity, will be the fireworks of a summer evening in all its power rises in the sky , leaving everyone with his mouth open , you will be the Northern Lights Nordic . You’ll always be enclosed in everything that is strong but at the same time deadly , you will always be the point of reference that will push us to not give up , you’ll be the hand that moves us in those dangerous situations, with almost no chance of success .
    Thanks for everything, Nelson.

    With love,

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      At times it is not easy to understand what you mean, there seems to be some contradictions. For example in the end you seem to have a pessimistic approach to life, but you mention that Mandela taught you to have hope. I am sure you meant something different, perhaps you wanted to say that those situations that apparently seemed to have no way out, if faced with optimism and faith in peace, can be overcome and you can achieve success (that is you can achieve your objectives). Then, at times, you use words that imply a violent approach to life:
      “You managed to hit and knock down the walls of white society”. I am not Mandela’s biographer, I cannot state with certainty that perhaps he would never have used “hit” and “knock down” referring to the need to put an end to white supremacy in South Africa.
      Last but not least you say: “the apatheid was the disaster that has allowed you to understand your value as a man”. Mandela certainly learnt a lot about himself while in prison, but he alrady knew his value as a man, otherwise he would not have been able to oppose the brutish Apartheid Laws and he would never have sacrificed his family’s happines, his personal happiness for the sake of his nation.

  4. Matteo says:

    Dear Mandela,
    I want to start this letter with an easy question: “Who wish to be like you?”
    I think that everybody should wish to be a man that with his ideals was
    able to change his and his people’s life. A man with a big heart that renounced
    at violence in all cases. I’m one of that people that wants to follow your footsteps
    so as to leave my life and my work in history books. I know that it’s almost
    impossible, but as you taught me the impossible can be possible, if you want it.
    If you were in life and I know you personally, certainly I would have asked you
    to inspire me, to teach me and to be my datum point.
    But I know that this will never happen that you made supernatural things but
    at the end you were only a man.
    I personally ignored what big things you did, before your death and the following
    itinerary that we made at school, but I can say that it have change my mode to think
    and to act. I’m immigrant’s son and I can see, even if not directly, that racism has
    not stopped, but now it’s extend not only to “black” people but also to immigrants
    from poor land, woman and in Italy like in U.S.A. to South people. I’ll would be honored to
    be the finalist of your work, the future is changeable we will see.

    We will miss you Goodbye!

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Some parts are not clear to me. For example I cannot grasp what you mean by
      “I would be honored to be the finalist of your work”. However, you maneged to express your gratitude and your desire to follow suit. People like you Matteo can change our community for the better. You know from personal experience what it means to be pointed out and this makes you a more sensible and tactful young men than those who were brought up in a “protected” environment. Clarify to yourself what you would like to achieve in your life and start working hard for accomplishing that. Mandela’s success was knowing what he wanted and remaining focussed!

  5. Madalina says:

    January 24th, 2014
    Dear Mandela,
    I am writing this letter to submit you my thoughts. I come from Romania when I was 5. At that age I did not feel different from the other children, I never felt discriminated or isolated. I singled out myself on my own from the other kids, or so I thought, because I am not the type of person who socializes with anyone. I did not realize that the other children did not play with me. I used to play all by myself and I did not care about the others. At the age of 8 I still did not have any friends at school. It was then that I realized that something was wrong. I have not blamed anyone, because I was used to being alone, but the other children were all friendly with each other and although I knew all of them I did not feel belonging to the group. So I started to think why I was not accepted. My hypotheses were two: they did not accept me because I did not speak to them or they did not accept me because I am Romanian. At the time I pursued the second one. Even my parents pushed me to think that way, especially my father (even now he still does not accept this country as his home). I never tried to talk to the other children to hear what they thought about it and that was my mistake. Nowadays I think that if I had talked to others I would have avoided a lot of pain. My mistake was not to express myself from the beginning and I think that is also your people mistake. They should have object to the situation even before it was formed, I do not mean that the elimination of the “whites” was the solution, but reject their laws could have been a good one. I understand better than anyone else that it is not that easy to do. It also took me a while to take courage to rebel to my situation, but as your people I succeed. I still have a lot of things that trouble me (for example discrimination between men and women, and prejudices against foreigners), but you are an example of an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Very personal letter and touching too, because you reveal a moment of awareness that must have been quite painful.
      As to the point where you write South Africans should have rebelled against the Apartheid Laws, I do not think we can put things that plainly. Violence, abuse, derision, attitude of superiority, deprivation, knowledge, deceit were used to subdue the South-Africans. You realized it by yourself that perhaps kids did not play with you because you did not make them understand you wanted to be included too. You realized this in a protected environment, surrounded by children. Would you have come to this conclusion if you had been surrounded by adults telling you you were inferior because you came from a country different from Italy? Would you have come to the same conclusion if you had been abused physically or verbally whenever you wanted to express your discontent?

  6. Giulia Fren says:

    Dear Nelson Mandela,
    Your death has left a big void in South Africa, but also in the rest of the world because you have taught to mankind the right path towards freedom and the importance of fighting for the rights and dignity of man .
    You taught to accept all ethnic groups through the principle of equality ; you’ve sent this principle , but as long as every person that lives in this world will not understand it there will be a peaceful struggle to combat each symptom of inequality.
    I admire what you have done in life , in particular the fact that after being released from prison after 27 years , you have not brought with you rancor and hate.
    You have left vengeance against those who had greatly hurt you and you preferred the path of forgiveness . This way to act shows immense courage and an inner strength that must be considered a remarkable example to all in order to hold on and never give up even if the difficulties are disastrous .
    Through your actions I learn necessary lessons to life.
    I really admire your inner strength that has allowed you to do great things , as in the politics.
    Thank you for everything you have give to me, it is thanks to you if I can grow with solid values . Thank you also for making me think about these issues and for bringing me to the right path .
    I Will spread what I have learned in all the people who are close to me and I will do it as long as I possibly can.
    Thank you for everything you have done and for being a reference point for me and for the rest of humanity.
    I give to you my last goodbye big man !

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      A letter of great gratitude. I hope you will stick to the promises you made: that of applying Mandela’s principles in your daily life.
      Remember to use the Simple Past when you mention somebody who is not longer among us.

  7. Simona Mastrapasqua says:

    Dear Mandela,
    even if you are no longer fisically with us , for me it’s very important write this letter, because I think you were one of the few men to defeat death in a sense, namely your spirit is among us, is “invictus”. A man, who was subjected to violence and injustice only for his color of skin, can’t forget his saviour. First I want to thank you, since I learned to ponder more deeply on things. For example in my opinion white man didn’t use brutality only for having fear of diversity, but also because the characteristic of dominating others , the lust for power is innate in the majority of men and it’s vane to deny it. Instead you , one of the few , have been able to placate this desire.
    Then I want to thank you for having taught me the importance of knowledge. Now I can see many points of view and I opened eyes on many issues. My parents don’t know, so they trust of what that mass-media say and since I was familiar with your ideas I try to convince them that they must not have a mass thought, but they must understand that it always isn’t blame of “different”.
    I’m glad it existed a man like you, capable of not only thinking to himself and to his benefits, but ready to risk and lose everything in order to help the country. I hope to develop your courage.
    I respect you so much and I’m proud of what you did. Your struggles won’t be lost.
    P.S: Good rest, even if I think that you will continue to enforce your rights there too.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I love the line when you write “your spirit is ‘invictus'”.
      You are proud of him and I am sure you will make him proud of you too!

  8. Emanuele says:

    Dear Nelson Mandela,
    I wrote this letter to you because I want to congratulate with you and thank you for everything you have done. It is a pleasure and an honor to write to a person like you. Thank you for the preservation of our humanity under the most inhumane of conditions; you never give up, you have always been on the side of freedom both when you were incarcerated and when you became president. A lot of people when they reached the summit of power would be corrupt but you with your equal rights, you have continued your journey to liberate South Africa from white domination, making you not be influenced by anyone, even more from the people closest to you. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us, you will remain forever in our hearts as only a few other people have done. I hope that someone else can be like you, follow your ideals, be a new guide for fighting racism. Our world would need it! Even here in Italy there is also a lot of discrimination only between north and south, and many people can not tolerate the landings in Lampedusa. This situation is intolerable we are orphaned of a great person who left, however, a great sign. Thanks for everything Madiba will never forget you, you will always be remembered for everything you have done.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Nice the reference to the refugees and immigrants reaching the shores of Lampedusa.
      I really hope Mandela’s teachings will make you realize that the sooner you visualise who you want to become in life the sooner you will work hard to achieve that goal. This way you will accomplish what Mandela mentioned in the speech we analysed in class: you owe you to life to do something useful with your life.

  9. Veronica P. says:

    Dear Mandela ,
    I chose to write you because I think you’re a very special person . I can not understand how hard you had to be able to fight during all those years in prison. After twenty-seven years, you came up as winner, keeping fight for the freedom of black population. You have an indescribable courage , I dare not imagine how the world would be today without your intervention. You’re a key piece of evidence that obstacles and difficulties, if you want, you can break them down easily. To realize our dreams, we don’t need fame and wealth, but simply the wish to LIVE and FIGHT for our ideals. I believe that to have a better world, we mustn’t always stand there complaining and waiting for someone to change it for us. We must be the first, as you have done, who want to change and fight, already with the little things . I would love to donate blood, and with a small gesture, I think I could help those who need it. Also do something to make people happy is what I always try to do, and see a smile on their faces makes me happy. For example, this summer, in spite of my shyness, I dressed as a clown and I went to a center for the disabled. I was very impressed by that experience because I scored in the heart of all their smiles and just think about it makes me immense joy.
    Thanks Mandela , you’re a great example for me.
    with love

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Fighting for one’s own ideals is certainly a key to success, but first we need to clarify to ourselves who we want to be and what our poramount ideals are.
      I am happy to read about your personal experience: regardless of your shyness (which by the way is not to be seen as a limit at all!) you are a pretty strong woman. I would add, a woman of great sensitivity. I wish you all the best.

  10. Francesco Bortolussi says:

    Dear Nelson Mandela,
    first I am writing to thank you for all that you are able to transmit to me, the will to live and fight for our dreams. You were a very determined person, this has helped you a lot in your life, but even more you were a person with noble ideals, and this made you bigger than the other men.
    You have fought against white domination, you have fought against the domination of same blacks, you have fought for the equality of peoples, you have fought attacking the buildings of the whites and not their creators, you have fought for all humanity, you have always fought for a better world.
    I have a dream like you, although very different from your own. I would like to become a good professor of physics and maybe make a contribution to the history of science.
    However, I would like to do something to improve the current reality, based on conformity and on the only desire of gain. I don’t ask to be compared to you but i would have the strength to battle on a daily for what I believe.
    Madiba thanks again for all that you have been, but for me you are and you’ll be a master of life.
    Bye Madiba!!!

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Well done Francesco. For the first time I get to read about your wishes and resolutions. I did not know you wanted to become a teacher of physics or a professor of physics (at university). This is the difference between teacher and professor. So, what level would you like to teach? High-school or univeristy? You will certainly be able to make an important contribution if you really want to, but as Madiba showed us, you need to be determined, but most of all, you must work very hard to achieve your objectives.
      I think you would benefit a lot if you could improve your English too 🙂
      For example, in your letter you used the Present Perfect, but Nelson Mandela died, thus you must use the Simple Past.

  11. Mattia De Camillis Baiocchi says:

    Dear Nelson Mandela, 
    I’m from Italy therefore I can’t really understand what is racism and more what is Apartheid, but in my little life I can know what is to you, mr. Mandela, and to the other black people this struggle for freedom. I saw how you work for made it real, you inspire me with your determination and costancy. I understand that I can persue all my objectives only believing in myself and going on. Thank you Madiba, working and fighting for your country you inspired many people including me. I can’t understand what you went through and how you suffer, but I can see how brutal it was and this tempered my soul.
    After viewing your story, your sofferences, your struggles, and your final win you became a figure that change my life, now I see my world in another way, I find racism also in my country that should be domocratical and open minded.
    I think that your example can bring me to do more, to fight for my ideals, to improve my life.
    Finally you make me think about my social conditions, about what I can achieve only because my skin is white…
    You change me and I would thank you for this.
    With admiration,

  12. cristianaziraldo says:

    He has certainly changed the lives of those who truly listened to his words and truly weighted the purport of his speeches. I think we are all lucky that a man like him existed, lucky because whenever we are bombarded with news of corrupted and greedy people, of politicians with no scruples, well, instead of despairing, we can close our eyes, visualize people like Nelson Mandela, echo their words in our head and infuse our souls with positive determination.

  13. Jessica says:

    To Nelson Mandela

    Dear Mandela,
    I was thinking about your life, all things I appreciate about your past, I was thinking about all things you tought me and all things I could tell you, when I realized at the moment, I prefer say nothing of this. The reason is I feel guilty, hypocrite if I think until last year I barely knew who you were. I don’t mean I don’t recognise your greatness, your importance to my actual ideals and to everybody’ life, but before telling you my “superficial” opinion, I want to learn more about you, I really want to understand the strenght that pushed you to accomplish such a great changement in human’s story. With your death and with the notions I collected, you made me understand one more time, I wasted too much time. I don’t want to be passive any more, I want and I must gain understanding of our people, our feelings, our mind, so as you did.
    I want to achieve the same awareness you had, the same love towards life and the same sense of justice, because this is the best way I and all human being have to attend about world’s order. My intention is not to compare myself to your figure, my aim is emproving myself following your teaching.
    I hope I’ll manage to reach at least one small part of this.
    Be with me, be with us.
    I owe you a lot,

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Dear Jessica,
      A highly personal letter in which you disclose your determination to become a better person. You are already a special woman: you acknowledge the fact you barely knew who Mandela was and you ask him to be on your side and lead you to better human horizons. I wish you a “long walk to freedom” and a long walk to your personal realization. Long live Mandela!

  14. Andrea Moras says:

    Dear Nelson Mandela
    For first i want to thank you for all the things that you have succeeded to get for the South African people and for the moral integrity of the people of the all world. You teached us the dignity, the respect for the others, the strenght of the spirit, the extreme resistance for our ideals of pacific cohabitation and freedom. You were a very noble person and, over at all, you were very strong for fighting for your ideas. Your strenght brought you to fight against white men, institutions, presidents. You fought for equality, for all humanity not only South African people, for a better world. You didn’t use the same weapon of the enemy, that uses the fear and the brutal force. No, you follow the example of Ghandi for continue the battle with racism. I will not be probably a great person like you, but i have a little hope similar to your ideas. There is still racism in all over the world, in all the little realities. You and other great people like Martin Luther King fought for ideals of freedom and respect but the prejudices of human genre are not completely eradicated. All of the people with a minimum of common sense must fight with the cancer of racism and prejudices of all genre. I would like to make a little change in my little reality. I don’t ask to be compared to you Madiba, you are so great and magnificient. I ask only for a little bit of your strenght and your simplicity. Thanks Madiba for all the things you made for us and for all the values you trasmict to us still now. You are a teacher of life, a master.
    Au revoir Nelson

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I think Mandela would tell you that there are no “great” or “little” human beings as you may think, but there are people who want to pursue values of equality and humanity because if they didn’t they wouldn’t be themselves, and there are others who pursue just their own interests, because they cannot see the rest of the picture, they do not see that they are part of a larger context.
      You can acquire the strength and humility you so much admire in Madiba. What prevents your from this?
      There are lots of mistakes in your letter, so next time try to proofread what you write: this way your language will equal the power of the content of your ideas.

  15. Chiara says:

    Dear Mandela,
    I am writing you a letter and I know you ‘d never read it even if you had been alive, but I try the same . The thing I appreciate most of your life is your incredible patience and kindness even though you have been treated in an inhumane way and you have spent nearly 30 years in prison unjustly . I don’t think I’m a racist person but nowadays it is easy to have prejudices especially against foreigners. But the thing that struck me most in your life is that you’ve never stop in front of the fear and you don’t ever give up. I’d like to know where you found all this courage to fight in front of the worst , sufference and helplessness , the courage not to give up and be able to realize your dream . I’d like to know it for myself because I need to find a strong person that will give me the example to adjust my life but also for alla the people because the world needs someone like you.
    With love,

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I am not Mandela, but I can try to answer this letter for him. I think Mandela found his strength and courage in the belief that we were all born equal, that there is no difference between a black human being and a white human being. You can find good and evil traits in any person who inhabits this world. His belief was then supported by a strong sense of justice, because he studied law, so he wanted to see the rights of people respected and safeguarded. We can be inspired by great writers, great film directors, great politician, yet if in us there is not the belief of that equality, if in us there is not the convinction that a human being should not be judged by the colour of his skin, by the money he has, by the social class he belongs to, by his gender, by his sexual orientation, by his religion, etc. , we won’t ever see where Madiba’s courage and strength came from.
      Good luck with your spiritual search and investigation!

  16. Leonardo Bidoia says:

    Letter to Nelson Mandela

    Dear Madiba,
    now that you’re gone the world has lost a great man, a great spirit. What you did, no one has ever been and ever will be able to do. You have changed the world, you changed the people who inhabit it, you deleted inequality.
    I personally you have changed in me many things, thanks to you I’ve seen what we whites have done to your people, I have come to truly realize the atrocities committed among men, and for that I thank you.
    I thank you on behalf of future generations, thanks to your work will live peacefully, aware of their past in order not to repeat the same mistakes. you were the light in the darkness, the sun in the rain, you were unique, and why no one ever will forget your name.
    Enjoy the peace as you’ve always been able to do.

    Thank you Madiba.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      You are right, Madiba has changed all our lives and along with you I will always thank him from the bottom of my heart. It is amazing how much we can learn from great leading figures in this world, isn’t it?

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