The loss of great men from the world is always sad and full of grief. While the whole world unites in remembering the man who fought against all odds to lead a nation out of darkness and to a new path of light, I would like to remember Nelson Mandela for having played a vital role in my growing years. I happened to be one of those kids who found interest and excitement in knowing the stories of great men that ever walked on earth. When I came to know of Mandela, I was literally shaken to know a man being incarcerated for 27 years; out of those 27 years, 18 years were spent on Robben Island Prison inside a prison cell that’s the size of a bathroom in most urban apartments. Yet, after coming out of those 27 dark years of imprisonment, he could lead the country by winning the first fully representative democratic multiracial election and becoming the first black president of South Africa. He is a man who has inspired an entire nation and the whole world at large. He remains one of the greatest mortal beings and immortal souls that ever manifested this world.
While spending his days in Robben Isand Prison, Nelson Mandela used to recite a poem by the 18th century English poet, William Ernest Henley. This poem inspired him and other prison mates to stay put and keep going through the hard times. This poem has been a collection of words that I personally, along with many others around the world, have cherished all my life. The poem is titled Invictus, which in Latin mean Unconquered. In my view, there cannot be a more apt word to describe Nelson Mandela than THE INVICTUS – The Unconquered.
I believe the greatest tribute that we can extend towards great Nelson Mandela is by living our lives with the examples set by him and an untiring trial of imbibing his great qualities within ourselves.
With all humility and great respect, I share the poem that inspired this great soul and hope it will keep inspiring millions across the generations. May the soul of Nelson Mandela rest in eternal peace.
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.
Video of the poem recited by the greatest narrator of our times, Morgan Freeman from the movie Invictus, where Freeman plays Nelson Mandela himself: