Man spends 27 years in a political prison. Most times in isolation in a tiny bare cell.
At times having to toil under the hot sun doing menial labour designed to break not only your back but your soul.
Man not only survives this ordeal but when he eventuallybecomes the leader of his country, he chooses not to persecute his former oppressors. Instead he chooses a policy of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Truly remarkable. And you start wondering how did he ever survive those 27 long years.
In those same 27 years, I would have grown from a baby to a child, gone to school and finished university and started a career, maybe a family. But this man spent it in jail.
It boggles the mind just thinking about how this man maintains his sanity and soul.
The man simply says that it was a few words from a poem that kept him going. He had memerised it and recited it over and over again. I applaud this man and the greatness that has come to define him. And so here I share the poem which kept him going through adversity.
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
The man was Nelson Mandela and I am moved by the poem he has introduced into my life.
May this poem also inspire my friends who read this, especially through the rough patches.
Be the captain of your soul and bow not your head, even though it is bloody.