Beyoncé has written an emotional letter to anti-apartheid struggle icon and South Africa’s first democratic president Nelson Mandela, on the year that marks 100 years since his birth.
In the letter, the superstar reminisces on meeting Mandela for the first time back in 2004, how he has impacted her life, and how she has been inspired by Mandela’s charismatic character and his efforts to try to help change the world.
Beyoncé — who will be taking to the stage in Johannesburg on December 2 for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, presented and hosted by the Motsepe Foundation — also gives her word to continue maintaining Mandela’s dream of a holistically free and united world.
In the letter, Beyoncé spreads a message to us to continue working towards achieving a world imagined, fought for and hoped for by Mandela.
You can read the letter in full below:
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.
It is an honor for me to travel to South Africa this week in celebration of you and your efforts to right so many wrongs. You were a strategic warrior, a bold activist, and charismatic well-loved leader. Your vision for dignity, for human rights, for peace and a South Africa free of racism and apartheid, allows us all to turn dreams into reality.
I remember taking that walk with you back to the prison on Robben Island where you spent 18 of those imprisoned 27 years. I recall your measured but focused steps in as you recounted the stories of the struggles, the sacrifices and resilience. You smiled as you talked to the 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.
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.
The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.