16 December 2013

In honour of Nelson Mandela

Mandela was not an unqualified hero, but what's more is that he never pretended to be.  What really made him a hero was that when he realized mistakes, he admitted them openly and was explicit about any change of direction.  Without him at the helm of the anti-apartheid forces when the old regime passed, South Africa would have descended into one of the bloodiest civil wars of the bloody 20th century.

This poem by William Henry Blake, his favorite, is the poem which got him through his 25 years in the tiny cell in which he was imprisoned.

by William Ernest Henley
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.

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