Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

“Human Bridges”

While in prison for 27 years,
Nelson Mandela has recited famously
one poem repeatedly:
“Invictus”, as versed by William Ernest Henley

Henley remained on Earth
between 1849 and 1903.
15 years following his death,
our globe was honored by Mandela’s birth.

One day, countless people woke up
to Mandela’s supposedly silenced voice
and learned about the restrictions and violence
he faced throughout his unjust imprisonment.

The now world-renowned Henley-poem
brought to clear view for humanity
self-empowerment’s vitality:
Mandela was anything but a broken man!

An enemy of war just like Aristide Briand,
Carlos Saavedra-Lamas also made history.
Latin America’s first Nobel Peace Prize
belongs to him. The year was 1936.

Born 19 years later,
I, like the poets in this collection,
did always and continue to heed poetry’s call
with an “unconquerable soul”.

I, like the poets in this collection,
arrived here with determination
to pen poems in deep thought and reflection,
showing our respect for him with dedication.

“Invictus” is being re-visited here.
(Minus any time in jail. Thankfully.)
For, through our poetry of and on peace,
we become “the master of [our] fate”.

Not unlike Mandela,
not unlike Saavedra-Lamas,
“I am the captain of my soul.”
You are it, too. Do you not yet know?


© hülya n. yılmaz, March 15, 2020

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“Human Bridges” appeared in the April 2020 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly book published by Inner Child Press International.

Related Readings:

Nelson Mandela
William Ernest Henley
Carlos Saavedra Lamas
Aristide Briand


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

…on Madiba (and myself): a post-humous poem…

Before I knew even an approximate location of his village of birth on the world map (for lack of geographic vision on my behalf), I had heard about the “freedom fighter Nelson Mandela of Africa” while I was still on Turkish grounds. My undergraduate years helped me intensify my admiration for him – though still not at all with any in-depth understanding of what he meant for humanity at large. Only later was I to attain the appreciation of his gift to people everywhere. Below, I am sharing with you a poem I wrote from the perspective of a little girl. While I refer to her as “a little girl”, she embodies the young woman who became the object of ridicule on account of her interest in a far away continent but also for behaving as if she were a native disciple of a most prominent world leader. She then meets Madiba, her object of adoration, after all. And when she does,  she complains to him about her unsuccessful attempts to connect with him – this time, her mannerism is that of a spoiled little child. In despair, she concludes she arrived too late. It was her lifelong wish to see her Madiba, after all. However, for her (unversed) celebration of integrity, dignity, fairness, persistence, love of freedom, peace and humanity – the makings of life’s aorta she learned from this legendary human being, there is no lateness. As she realizes it in her grown matter. For she is “no longer the same”…


what, did you say, your name is?


neither an African nor with any other honor




to wait for my turn…



too many call you father brother “our leader”

i have for long been reading their proud demeanor

from the ever so negligent sidelines

cursing my whiteness along most times


i, too, have known you all my life!

spreading your word has still been a strife

ridiculed when in my native land

to the mundane most would rather clap a hand

no one could utter Xhosa even the word

Zulu or Afrikaans? nowhere to be heard


i am grateful better yet in a daze

in disbelief of my timing of seeing these days

i beg of you imagine, Sir: Qunu

why did i deserve bunu*

i trekked ocean crests and river beds

slept in caves made tree tops my nests

doves and eagles flew with me to find my way

not even once did i go astray


tears now flood in me in red

from Sinop to Eastern Cape

what use? i am so gravely late!



Madiba Sir? my name?


hülya n yılmaz, no longer the same


*Impersonal pronoun in Turkish in the accusative case meaning “this”

[Inner Child Press Mandela anthology]

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Before I sign off for today, I would also like to refresh an announcement I made to you a few weeks back regarding the launch of my part-time freelance writing and editing business. Instead of adding another blog, I ended up creating my own webpage, Services for the Professional Writer.

As always, my best wishes are with you for your Sunday and new week. I look forward to your next visit.















Filed under Poetry

As inspired by…









A few days of the past week, I have been working on a foreword for a collaborative anthology honoring Rolihlahla Mandela – Nelson Mandela, or Madiba, as he has been called affectionately by many people. Unfortunately, I had missed out on the chance to be one of the contributing poets to this book that is very dear to me. For, what I always focused on has been the humanist efforts of this “last great liberator of the 20th century (US President Barack Obama).” You have known my struggles along the way to accept the countless violations of the members of humanity across the globe as one of life’s most brutal realities. You also know a few of my scattered attempts to write against or about them or on account of them. Today is not different. Here I am, with your most appreciated visit, aiming to do exactly that: drafting a poem inspired by Madiba’s actions throughout his life. Should you desire to lend me feedback, I would greatly appreciate your kind act. It is a draft…so please, allow your comments to be as harsh as you would like them to be…

As always, I very much look forward to your next visit and wish that the rest of your Sunday as well as your new week will meet all your expectations.

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a mere twelve-year-old

when most of our youngsters

opt to bond with their electronics

for the sake of higher capacity, a newer model

amid extensive comfort and ease

only and always themselves to please


with no parental guidance

in a forgotten earthly place

he knew there was more to chase

how life at large needed his grace


against all odds…as we cluelessly say


he trekked through ordeals  infinitely rare

they must have appeared as could he no longer bear

he thought

fought in thought

in tireless patience

endeared his homeland for worldwide acceptance

justice soon followed for the separated

alienatists’ treasured thrones colors faded


“We can’t afford to be killing one another.”


it is likely Africa was his referent

the call for peace though spans far beyond

his soul after all wasn’t known as indifferent

he was aware of nations forever ghastly pawned


if killing one another is no option



if i don’t she he doesn’t

lest they do or we

who in defense of justice for humanity will ever be


© hülya n yılmaz (June 7, 2014)


Filed under Poetry