December 6, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's leader who emerged after being in prison for 27 years to lead his country out of decades of apartheid, died yesterday. He was 95.

It's a great loss to humanity. He was one of my heroes. One of his biggest contributions to the world was his message of reconciliation, instead of vengeance. He was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years by South Africa's minority white government. However, when he was freed and then got elected to lead the country, he urged forgiveness for the white government that oppressed blacks and caused them unimaginable suffering for decades. 

Here is the poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. Mandela used this poem to derive strength and maintain hope during his long years of imprisonment on the Robben Island.

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. 

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