Nelson Mandela passed away at 95.
The post-title could relate to a mediocre semi-bio-pic (of Mandela) with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman of a couple of years ago… but I’d prefer relating it to this poem, by William Ernest Henley [a poem supposedly recited by Mandela himself during his long incarceration at South Africa’s notorious Robben Island political prison]:
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.
Mandela dies at a moment when he was, over a decade after he left office as state president of South Africa, still the most significant human being on the planet (Gorbachev is arguably the only other living person, in my view, even worthy of consideration for that title).
I may, one of these days, discuss his grace under fire, that a man incarcerated for the bulk of his life could nonetheless reconcile with, and actually forgive both the system that incarcerated him and its perpetrators, for the greater good. An exemplary man who genuinely lived his life larger than life… changed the world in the way we were meant to aspire to. Compare this man of grace, integrity, and the power of his character to those running our current era of corner-cutting and fear-mongering. One of these days.
For now, R.I.P., Madiba.