Written by Kyle SlagleyToday, free men and women from all nations are forced to say goodbye to one of the most influential men in history. Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully yesterday at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, amid his family and friends at the age of 95.
After spending his younger years as a political activist, Mandela was eventually arrested and would spend nearly 30 years in prison for his activities. Just four years after being released from prison, Mandela was elected President of South Africa and served one five-year term from 1994-1999 before voluntarily retiring.
As one of the most influential men of the 20th century, Mandela has fittingly been portrayed by some of Hollywood’s best actors over the years; among them are Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, David Harewood, Dennis Haysbert, Terrence Howard, Clarke Peters, and Idris Elba. Mandela also gave the world a chance to know him through his writing; the most popular in recent years would be Long Walk to Freedom, thanks largely to the film version starring Elba.
Thanks to his tireless courage and commitment to ideals like freedom, education, and peace, many nations across the world feel as though they are saying goodbye to one of their own. Celebrities and heads of state across the world are sharing Mandela’s words today, and many national flags are flying at half-mast.
Because it is incredibly difficult to find words that truly do justice to a man as great as Mandela, I will instead leave you with the words that he himself used to find courage during his many years in prison.
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.
"Courage ...not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." The world gives thanks for a life of courage. pic.twitter.com/175B95XR3Y
— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) December 5, 2013
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