Have you had one of those days when things just refuse to fall in place like they usually do? Have you gone through those moments when you want to pull out your hair, break something or scream out loud, just so you could feel better? Have you experienced that one moment when you look at it all and realise there is not enough reason to feel the way you do? Heck, you can’t even put a finger on the cause of your stress, depression, anger or whichever of the not-so-pleasant emotions that has decided to occupy your body, mind, spirit etc. However, the feeling is still there, tugging at the most sensitive of your neurons and sometimes tough enough to induce tears. You are oblivious to the wetness on your face, because this one time, tears are not enough to wash away the mood. If you’re lucky to have people notice that you’re not in top form, more often than not, you end up ‘not wanting to talk about it’. Why? There is actually nothing to talk about. Who would want to hear about that hollow feeling in your chest? Who would take even 3 minutes of their time listening to you tell them ‘I don’t know what this is‘? On the other hand, when you realise no one notices, you recoil and wonder if anyone cares at all. You obviously know there are those who care and would come to your ‘rescue’ when called upon, but the question still pops up in your head, like a light bulb… only dim this time as though powered by NAWEC.
While caught up in your thoughts, you realise there is one thing that could actually make you feel better. For some, it could be a chat with someone they trust to listen. For others, it could be the comfort of food. For another group, it could be just anything. I can fit into all three categories, and maybe the rest too, if I’d allowed myself to list them. The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind of inexplicable emotion. It’s that time of the year again when students in this part of the world are wrapping up the school year and we all know what that means. EXAMS galore!!! Stress levels soar over the highest buildings ever erected. Uncertainty clouds the minds of those swamped with more things to do in this last month than they’d had during the course of the year. I am no exception to this group of young men and women trying to get over another hurdle in the race for intellectual excellence.
Today, I decided to seek option 3 for a change. I found solace in a movie that has grown to be my favorite from the first time I watched it. A few months ago, I was going through my files when I came across this movie. I’d had it for about a year, but had never bothered to throw the slightest glance its way. Call it the case of judging the movie by its name and then charge me guilty. On this day, I had nothing new to watch so I decided to give it a try and boy, was I surprised. It opened with a chant from wonderful African voices. I easily concluded that it was South African, after having listened to the angelic voices of choirs from that part of the world for a few years. My interest peaked and would stay that way till the very last second of the movie. This is, in no way, a review, because I can never really do justice to it. Sadly, may I add.
INVICTUS is a Warner Bros Production, based on the story of Nelson Mandela, first South African President and renowned world figure. My love and respect for Madiba, as he’s fondly called by his people, was initiated when, in Primary Four, I read a novel documenting his life. I can no longer remember the title, nor recall if it was his autobiography, but it was one work that touched me in many ways, even at that young age. Over the years, I came across more information on Mandela and my admiration for him grew even more. INVICTUS is in no way a representation of his complete life story, as highlights such as the fight against apartheid and his time in Robben Island were not included. One could say it was set in post-independence South Africa, concentrating on Madiba’s determination to get the national team through to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. One would think the movie would be more appealing to sport, and more especially, rugby fans. However, the many life lessons portrayed in the script cannot go unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone.
Madiba’s humility, even as President of the nation, was very much laudable. His interaction with his staff left me yearning to see more of his kind in our world. Simple things like asking his guards about their families when they came to pick him up for his early morning walk, to complimenting his Personal Assistant on a new dress, hairdo etc were enough to keep smiles on their faces. Deeper even, they served as motivation and an example for them all, as they endeavored to make of South Africa a country revered in the world, despite being marked by the atrocities of apartheid. Mandela’s willingness to forgive the white South Africans after all the years of torture, hardship and marginalisation left many in awe. As the captain of the rugby team put it, he could not understand how Mandela ”could spend thirty years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put him there“. His speech to white employees of his office, who were packing their boxes ready to ‘make way for the black people’,on his first day of work left me in tears. The inclusion of white men in his immediate Security team and his resolve to get the whole of black South Africa in solidarity with the national team, the Springboks, are further examples of his forgiving spirit. His attitude towards work is one that many nations could do with in these times of economic crises, corruption and the reluctance to go all out in executing our duties. In the end, Nelson Mandela achieves his goal. Not only did he succeed in serving as enough motivation for the Springboks, leading to their victory in the World Cup; he also thrived in uniting the people of South Africa, making them realise that development could only be attained if they all pooled their resources and did away with anger, resentment and the spirit of revenge.
One thing that still stands out for me is the poem ‘Invictus’, from which the movie got its name. Written by English poet, William Ernest Henley, Invictusserved as a source of motivation to Nelson Mandela during his years in prison. It is the same poem he shared with the captain of the rugby team, who equally drew a lot of inspiration from it. This had a ripple effect on his team and contributed, in one way, to their success. The movie ends with Morgan Freeman’s voice reciting the poem . Morgan plays the role of Mandela in the film, and he did play it well. INVICTUS is Latin for ‘Unconquered’ and my spirit led me to the almighty Google, in search of the words that gave hope to this man I love and admire. I share with you Linguerites:
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.
Short. Precise. Powerful. Hidden meanings in the words, enough to light up my day. Watching the movie for the fifth time today helped dispel all fear and worry. I emerged from it, filled with the strong will to try, try, try again and succeed! I shall not punish myself because ‘I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul‘.
And you dear Linguerite? What do you turn to in moments like the ones described above? I just might steal some tips from you. Let’s share
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