INVICTUS – Lessons Learned

Yesterday, I saw the movie INVICTUS, before playing the film, I had no idea what it was about, so I was somewhat amazed to hear South African songs at the beginning of the movie. Turned out to be a movie on Nelson Mandela and his first year in office as the president of his country.

As the movie went on, I couldn’t help wondering how the man Mandela could have chosen to forgive. How he made the decision to let go of the sufferings he had endured and embrace a new day, a new South Africa and freedom for all of his people: irrespective of skin colour.

As he staked his political clout on the Afrikaans and seemingly went against the wish of the black people, his family and even his bodyguards. The man who had been a radical activist, got thrown in prison for twenty-seven years had seemingly simmered and was suing for peace in the land. Instead of heralding war drums and sending the Afrikaans scampering as most would have thought when they voted him in.

The movie showed a thought process that is sorely missing in the Nigerian leadership. One that seeks to unify rather than seperate the people. The movie may have been about sports, but the man Mandela employed that means to unite his country by inspiring his national team to win the rugby world cup in 1995.

On the day that South Africa won the third edition of the rugby world cup in 1995 a year after Mandela was sworn into office and the rugby team written off, both the whites and blacks embraced and didn’t have any barriers between them. Mandela had in the previous year endured jeers and criticism from both black and white South Africans. That day he was justified in a decision to be the better man and encourage the almost white team to play for the country.

More I thought of it more I got saddened. We have yet to have a president who did things in spite of the people to strengthen their unity and increase the standard of living of the people. The movie asked a lot of relevant questions I was ill-equipped to answer. I could only sigh and wish that this country would allow true leaders rule.

Mandela influenced by the poem of an English writer, became a better man, chose to forgive and got healing and redemption as his reward. He not only is a South African, or African icon, he is a world enigma and rulers still seek him out even at his very old age.

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


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