Sunday, January 17, 2010

Invictus: 'I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul'

I saw Invictus the other day, and it just adds to what I was saying below about Malema. Mandela was a leader in the true sense of the word- he made decisions based on sacrifice, wisdom, knowledge and forgiveness. I had shivers down my spine as I watched how this man carried my country in his two hands while it could have so easily fallen apart. I was too young to remember these moments, and yet they have affected my life deeply.

Mandela understood complexity, acknowleging that the task he faced was not 'black and white.' He stood firmly by the ANC's ideals of non-racialism and nation-building, at the very moments when revenge, anger and racism could have been the easier options. He led the people of South Africa beyond these instinctive reactions, towards the ideals epitomized in the poem Invictus:

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

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor 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.

-William Ernest Henley

I sometimes wonder what will happen to SA when Madiba passes on. I feel like in many ways his energy and wisdom keeps this country on a level of stability and on the path it needs to go. I just hope that when that day comes, leaders will emerge to take his legacy forward.