Last night Mary and I went out with some friends to the movie “Invictus.” It is a story of a time in the 1990’s when South Africa was in a state of flux. Apartheid was being confronted and a new president was elected who was not white. You might have heard of his name once or twice; Nelson Mandela.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years as a political activist. Once released in 1990, he became the first black president in 1994. The movie focuses on Mandela’s connection with the country’s rugby team attempting to create a new day. He wants to promote forgiveness and many of the black Africans wanted to see it go away since it was a symbol for them of white supremacy.
According to the movie, he wants to help all South Africans, black and white, to come together by mutually supporting this team and help it win the world cup.
I am not sure how much of the movie is factual and how much is Hollywood, but I do know that the pictures of the kids and shanties was very realistic. I have made two trips to South Africa and it is a beautiful country with beautiful people! And yes, it is still a country trying to overcome racism and build something new.
The name of the poem quoted by Morgan Freeman who plays the lead role of Mandela is the same as the movie. The title comes from the Latin term “unconquered.” I love the last four lines of the poem written by William Ernest Henley
“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.”
It definitely parallels Mandela’s life in that he would not be conquered by the small cell, by apartheid, by critics, etc. It also reminds me that we are the “captains of our souls” in terms of how we react to adversity. We can’t control the crud that comes our way. But, we can control who we trust and how we react. Will we be stopped by the opposition or will we stand up! It is our choice.