5 Years: Bey honours Nelson Mandela

Beyonce has written an open letter to Nelson Mandela thanking the late human rights icon for making her a better parent.

Today marks 5 years since Mandela closed his eyes for the last time.

South African newspaper The Sowetan has published the letter, in which the R&B superstar opens up about all the ways Mandela’s teachings have helped her in her life.


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The Halo singer writes: “I first met you in 2004 for the 46664 AIDS Benefit Concert in Cape Town, and the impact you have had on my life resonates with me today and every day.

“Your kindness and gratitude for every experience, and your ability to forgive are lessons I have learned and will pass on to my three children. My entire family holds you in high regard.”

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The letter was published just before coming to South Africa for a performance at the Global Citizen Festival, where she joins her husband JAY-Z, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams and Chris Martin onstage, and the singer admited her bittersweet feelings about being there.

“I remember taking that walk with you back to the prison on Robben Island where you spent 18 of those imprisoned 27 years,” she adds. “I recall your measured but focused steps in as you recounted the stories of the struggles, the sacrifices and your resilience. You smiled as you talked to a crowd of artists and their guests, including my mother, who first told my sister and me about the great Nelson Mandela. In that moment I truly understood your heart and humility.

“You made it possible for so many people like me to reject impossibilities and understand our capabilities in making lasting change in the world. The smallest efforts could change the trajectory for so many living in extreme poverty, facing injustices, the indecency of racism and fighting for their rights as humans.”

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Signing off as Beyonce Knowles-Carter, the R&B star concluded her letter: “As we celebrate the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, honoring your centennial year, I promise you that we have made your dreams our own. Your work and your sacrifices were not in vain. I will cherish every moment shared in your presence and use the lessons learned from you as fuel to stir positive ideas and solutions.”

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Mandela died on this day in 2013.