What we can learn from Nelson Mandela about solitude

(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, February 1, 2014)

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.

— From the poem Invictus

KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ Much has been made about the tremendous story from Africa that ended 2013, that of Nelson Mandela and the worldwide send-off he was given, and rightly so.

Mandela will be remembered as the embodiment of William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, that 19th-century verse describing a man who, as Henley put it, fell in the clutch of circumstance, who knew the bludgeonings of chance and bloody head, who found wrath and tears and horror, but through it all was unafraid and, in the end, “captain of his soul.”

Well over a month after Mandela’s death, his name is still easily spoken across Africa.