My dear friend, 

why not join me in an informal Get-together on Skype for about 30 to 40 minutes this Saturday 11/JAN in Spanish at 4 PM (GMT+1 – Madrid Time/ 10 AM NYT – New York Time) and Sunday 12/JAN in English at 10 AM (GMT+1 – Madrid Time/ 01 PM MSK – Moscow Standard Time) ?

You may as well send me an email to and book (optional – Skype takes only 6/7 people in optimum conditions) to join me for a Get-together. Minimum level required B1 European Framework for Languages or Intermediate Level. 

 You just go and appear on Skype and contact me at “jordi.picazo“. We can create an informal group to share ideas and experiences.

 This is the best way to learn a language: speak it. Once you have studied it, it is time to just speak it and give it a boost.

 I’d love to get to know some of you that read the Blog from all over the world, regardless of whether your native language is the target language in the get-together or you want to practice it. We may as well start talking about the posts you most liked in here.


Deal? Go for it. I’ll be here waiting for you to join.

 Greetings from the Cyberspace.



10 Memorable Quotes spoken by Nelson Mandela – RIP Madiba

Posted on December 10, 2013

Photo: abcnews

Photo: abcnews

As Johannesburg, South Africa hosts a huge memorial servicecelebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, I want to share with you 10 quotes from this wonderful, inspirational and most humble of men.

I first heard of Nelson Mandela, I’m ashamed to say, 
when I first arrived in the UK in 1985 through this catchy song playing at my halls of residence bar at university:’ Free Nelson Mandela’ by The Special AKA. At that time, Mandela had been a prisoner on Robben Island for 21 years. He would later be released in 1990.

I absolutely loved this song and danced many nights away giving very little thought to the man for whom this song was dedicated.
28 years later, I have a far better understanding and deep appreciation for this man who symbolized an era of great hope, when equality and justice seemed possible, humility and supreme wisdom.


For me, these 10 quotes convey very clearly the greatness of this man who, whilst being a great leader and example of humility and tolerance, was above all a human being like the rest of us. But what a human being!
On Education.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

On Courage

2I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear myself more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

On Freedom
3. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
4. There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
On Racism

5. No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

On Leadership

6. It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. 

On Peace

7. If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

On Society

8. There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

9. A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
On Death
10Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.

Thank you, Madiba, for the sacrifices you and your family made to make democracy and freedom a reality for so many people. I truly hope that the future generations will not let you down.

Nelson Mandela: An Indispensable Life in Pictures (3/3)

Simple Message

Mandela supporters perch on a billboard in Durban, April 1994.

Victory Salute

Surrounded by bodyguards, Mandela celebrates his triumph in April elections, and prepares to assemble South Africa’s first multi-racial government.

Swearing In

Mandela, 75, takes the oath of office in the political capital Pretoria as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. De Klerk, once an adversary, joined government as Mandela’s deputy.

Man of the People

Mandela tours Cape Town’s Eerste River township in November 2000. The year before, he opted to not contest for re-election, giving way to his party deputy Thabo Mbeki. Under Mbeki’s ANC government, economic — less than racial — inequality would come to define South Africa in the post-apartheid era.

South African Icon

Mandela addresses a conference on AIDS in Durban, July 2000. Mandela is credited wit breaking the conspiracy of silence that surrounded the disease in his home country.

Nelson Mandela: An Indispensable Life in Pictures (2/3)

The Troubles

In the Athlone neighborhood of Cape Town, regime police use horsewhips against protesters demonstrating in support of the jailed Mandela. Ruthless crackdowns, mass protests and bouts of insurgent violence across the country’s townships captured world attention and generated international support against the apartheid state.

Free at Last

Mandela walks with his wife Winnie after being released from prison, Feb. 11, 1990.

Home Free

Nelson and Winnie Mandela watch a performance at a homecoming party after his release from prison. Feb 23, 1990.

Eye on the Prize

In 1993, Mandela is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside then South African President F.W. de Klerk, whose rapprochement with Mandela and the ANC helped engineer the end of apartheid.


Mandela greets the crowds on the campaign trail in February 1994 as South Africa readies for its first all-race general election.

Nelson Mandela: An Indispensable Life in Pictures

Prodigal Son

Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mviza in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. His father was a counselor to a local king. He chose for his son the name Rolihlahla, which translated from Xhosa means literally “pulling a branch off a tree” — or, more colloquially, “troublemaker.” A schoolteacher would confer upon him the name Nelson.

Fighting the Law

Mandela and other co-defendants appear at the famous Treason Trial in Johannesburg, 1956. Mandela, along with his longtime ally Oliver Thambo and 154 others, was charged with treason. The case, which dragged on for five years, by which time all were acquitted, brought the struggle of the ANC to international attention.

Partner in Justice

Mandela, center, stands amid a gathering of other co-defendants during the Treason Trial.

The Long Wait

Mandela sews prison clothes by the shore in 1964. He was sent to the infamous jail at Robben Island, a barren rock off the coast near Cape Town, in 1963 in part for his activities supporting the ANC’s militant wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (the Spear of the Nation). His 27-year-long imprisonment made him the world’s most famous political prisoner.

Keeping Hope Alive

Winnie Mandela stands by a portrait of her then husband in their Soweto home, 1985.

Nelson Mandela, 1918–2013: Remembering an Icon of Freedom

TIME’s former managing editor writes about the man he knew — a prisoner turned peacemaker who carried South Africa out of apartheid and changed the world


    It was January 1993, and I was working with him on his autobiography. We had set out that morning from the home near Qunu, the village of his father, that Mandela had built after he was let out of prison. He had once said to me that every man should have a house in sight of where he was born. Much of Mandela’s belief system came from his youth in the Xhosa tribe and being raised by a local Thembu King after his own father died. As a boy, he lived in a rondavel — a grass hut — with a dirt floor. He learned to be a shepherd. He fetched water from the spring. He excelled at stick fighting with the other boys. He sat at the feet of old men who told him stories of the brave African princes who ruled South Africa before the coming of the white man. The first time he shook the hand of a white man was when he went off to boarding school. Eventually, little Rolihlahla Mandela would become Nelson Mandela and get a proper Methodist education, but for all his worldliness and his legal training, much of his wisdom and common sense — and joy — came from what he had learned as a young boy in the Transkei.
Mandela might have been a more sentimental man if so much had not been taken away from him. His freedom. His ability to choose the path of his life. His eldest son. Two great-grandchildren. Nothing in his life was permanent except the oppression he and his people were under. And everything he might have had he sacrificed to achieve the freedom of his people. But all the crude jailers, tiny cells and bumptious white apartheid leaders could not take away his pride, his dignity and his sense of justice. Even when he had to strip and be hosed down when he first entered Robben Island, he stood straight and did not complain. He refused to be intimidated in any circumstance. I remember interviewing Eddie Daniels, a 5-ft. 3-in. mixed-race freedom fighter who was in cell block B with Mandela on the island; Eddie recalled how anytime he felt demoralized, he would just have to see the 6-ft. 2-in. Mandela walking tall through the courtyard and he would feel revived. Eddie wept as he told me how when he fell ill, Mandela — “Nelson Mandela, my leader!” — came into his cell and crouched down to wash out his pail of vomit and blood and excrement.

I always thought that in a free and nonracial South Africa, Mandela would have been a small-town lawyer, content to be a local grandee. This great, historic revolutionary was in many ways a natural conservative. He did not believe in change for change’s sake. But one thing turned him into a revolutionary, and that was the pernicious system of racial oppression he experienced as a young man in Johannesburg. When people spat on him in buses, when shopkeepers turned him away, when whites treated him as if he could not read or write, that changed him irrevocably. For deep in his bones was a basic sense of fairness: he simply could not abide injustice. If he, Nelson Mandela, the son of a chief, tall, handsome and educated, could be treated as subhuman, then what about the millions who had nothing like his advantages? “That is not right,” he would sometimes say to me about something as mundane as a plane flight’s being canceled or as large as a world leader’s policies, but that simple phrase — that is not right — underlay everything he did, everything he sacrificed for and everything he accomplished.
I saw him a handful of times over the past few years. He was much diminished. The extraordinary memory that could recall a particular dish at a dinner 60 years before was now such that he often did not recognize people he had known almost that long. But his pride and his regal bearing never left him. When he “retired from his retirement” (as he put it in 2004), I thought it was simply because he couldn’t bear not remembering familiar things and he could not bear people seeing him in a way that did not live up to their expectations. He wanted people to see Nelson Mandela, and he was no longer the Nelson Mandela they wanted to see.
In many ways, the image of Nelson Mandela has become a kind of fairy tale: he is the last noble man, a figure of heroic achievement. Indeed, his life has followed the narrative of the archetypal hero, of great suffering followed by redemption. But as he said to me and to many others over the years, “I am not a saint.” And he wasn’t. As a young revolutionary, he was fiery and rowdy. He originally wanted to exclude Indians and communists from the freedom struggle. He was the founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the military wing of the African National Congress, and was considered South Africa’s No 1. terrorist in the 1950s. He admired Gandhi, who started his own freedom struggle in South Africa in the 1890s, but as he explained to me, he regarded nonviolence as a tactic, not a principle. If it was the most successful means to the freedom of his people, he would embrace it. If it was not, he would abandon it. And he did. But like Gandhi, like Lincoln, like Churchill, he was doggedly, obstinately right about one overarching thing, and he never lost sight of that.
Prison was the crucible that formed the Mandela we know. The man who went into prison in 1962 was hotheaded and easily stung. The man who walked out into the sunshine of the mall in Cape Town 27 years later was measured, even serene. It was a hard-won moderation. In prison, he learned to control his anger. He had no choice. And he came to understand that if he was ever to achieve that free and nonracial South Africa of his dreams, he would have to come to terms with his oppressors. He would have to forgive them. After I asked him many times during our weeks and months of conversation what was different about the man who came out of prison compared with the man who went in, he finally sighed and then said simply, “I came out mature.”
His greatest achievement is surely the creation of a democratic, nonracial South Africa and preventing that beautiful country from falling into a terrible, bloody civil war. Several years after I finished working with him on Long Walk to Freedom, he told me that he wanted to write another book, about how close South Africa had been to a race war. I was with him when he got the news that black South African leader Chris Hani was assassinated, probably the closest the country came to going to war. He was preternaturally calm, and after making plans to go to Johannesburg to speak to the nation, he methodically finished eating his breakfast. To prevent that civil war, he had to use all the skills in his head and his heart: he had to demonstrate rocklike strength to the Afrikaner leaders with whom he was negotiating but also show that he was not out for revenge. And he had to show his people that he was not compromising with the enemy. This was an incredibly delicate line to walk — and from the outside, he seemed to do it with grace. But it took its toll.
And because he was not a saint, he had his share of bitterness. He famously said, “The struggle is my life,” but his life was also a struggle. This man who loved children spent 27 years without holding a baby. Before he went to prison, he lived underground and was unable to be the father and the husband he wanted to be. I remember his telling me that when he was being pursued by thousands of police, he secretly went to tuck his son into bed. His son asked why he couldn’t be with him every night, and Mandela told him that millions of other South African children needed him too. So many people have said to me over the years, It’s amazing that he was not bitter. I’ve always smiled at that. With enormous self-control, he learned to hide his bitterness.
And then, after he forged this new South Africa, won the first democratic election in the country’s history and began to redress the wrongs done to his people, he walked away from it. He became the rarest thing in African history, a one-term President who chose not to run for office again. Like George Washington, he understood that every step he made would be a template for others to follow. He could have been President for life, but he knew that for democracy to rule, he could not. Two democratic elections have followed his presidency, and if the men who have succeeded him have not been his equal, well, that too is democracy. He was a large man in every way. His legacy is that he expanded human freedom. He was tolerant of everything but intolerance. He deserves to rest in peace