INVICTUS

 

One component of a lot of travel is that you catch all the movies. I had passed the movie Invictus several times before deciding to watch it. I am glad I did. The story of Nelson Mandela and the evolution of South Africa is both a sad and inspiring story. From IMDB:

Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

The word Invictus is from Latin, meaning unvanquished. The movie centers around the poem Invictus by English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) that Nelson Mandela kept close for inspiration during his years of captivity:

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.

The author’s life makes the inspiration clear:

At the age of 12, Henley fell victim to tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 25. In 1867, he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. In 1875, he wrote the "Invictus" poem from a hospital bed. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.

I have a few friends from South Africa. While it is recovering, it is still a sad story. A beautiful land, with much hope and opportunity, ravaged and struggling after many, many years with many tough years ahead, like so many African nations.

We live blessed lives.

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