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 Hemmigway
Nelson Mandela kept a copy of the above poem with him during his 27 years of captivity in South African prison. This very inspiring film is directed by Clint Eastwood and has Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon playing the key roles of South African President Nelson Mandela and François Pienaar, the captain of the South Africa rugby union team, the Springboksood respectively. The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid.
Brenda Mazibuko: You’re risking your political capital, you’re risking your future as our leader.
Nelson Mandela: The day I am afraid to do that is the day I am no longer fit to lead.
Nelson Mandela: Forgiveness liberates the soul.
Nelson Mandela: It removes fear.
Nelson Mandela: That is why it is such a powerful weapon.
Nerine: Thinking about tomorrow?
Francois Pienaar: No. Tomorrow’s taken care of, one way or another. I was thinking about how you spend 30 years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there.
[appearing at the South African Sports Committee, after they had elected to disband the Springbok rugby team]
Nelson Mandela: Brothers, sisters, comrades: I am here because I believe you have made a decision with insufficient information and foresight. I am aware of your earlier vote. I am aware that it was unanimous. Nonetheless, I believe we should restore the Springboks; restore their name, their emblem and their colors, immediately. Let me tell you
why. On Robben Island, in Pollsmoor Prison, all of my jailers were Afrikaners. For 27 years, I studied them. I learned their language, read their books, their poetry. I had to know my enemy before I could prevail against him. And we DID prevail, did we not? All of us here… we prevailed. Our enemy is no longer the Afrikaner. They are our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy. And they treasure Springbok rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We prove that we are what they feared we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint and generosity; I know, all of the things they denied us. But this is no time to celebrate petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation using every single brick available to us, even if that brick comes wrapped in green and gold. You elected me your leader. Let me lead you now.
Nerine: [after Francois returns from his tea with President Mandela] So, what’s he like?
Francois Pienaar: [pauses] He’s unlike any person I’ve ever met.
Nelson Mandela: You criticize without understanding. You seek only to address your own personal feelings. That is selfish thinking, Zindzi. It does not serve the nation.
Nelson Mandela: We need inspiration Francois. Because in order to build our nation we must exceed our own expectations.