Mandela

There have been very many tributes to the great man, so for these purposes I’ll avoid too many further platitudes to stand aside the nauseating attempts from politicians to bask in Mandela’s reflected glory.  I’d sooner let his eloquent words speak for themselves – see here.

Unquestionably a remarkable and inspirational man, and a true statesman loved by all in his later years, and the sole focus of the dream of a rainbow nation united as one.  This is greatly contrary to the days when even right-wing students were calling for him to be executed as a terrorist, which prompted me to pose what some consider a trite remark, that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Few if any could maintain such steadfast devotion to his cause and his country in view of 27 years in prison, supported as he was by very many people in many countries who fought for his freedom and against the abomination that was apartheid, yet managed to reconcile his country into one voice.

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But as Mandela himself put it:

 “As I walked out the door toward my freedom, I knew that if I did not leave all the anger, hatred and bitterness behind that I would still be in prison.”

My tribute is the positing of the wonderful Free Nelson Mandelathe song which above all provoked many young people in the mid-80s to become aware of the political struggle against the brutally repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa, to read his books, notably the memorable autobiography Long Walk To Freedom.  But also, here is his favourite poem, a message that got him through his 27 years in prison and one that we would all do well to remember:

Invictus

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY

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.

 

Let the legacy of Mandela be that reconciliation of differences between all of human kind is not only possible but achieved within our lifetime.

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