I wanted to see this movie for a long time, but have only recently managed to do so.

Several factors prompted me to seek it; Nelson Mandela fascinated and inspired me ever since I can remember, Morgan Freeman is one of my favourite actors, and Africa, (any part of it), has mesmerised me ever since I watched the movie Roots at the tender age of 12.

School lessons on history and geography of Africa failed to capture my imagination. It was not until I saw Roots and later searched for Alex Haley’s book on which the movie is based, that I glimpsed the open wounds of Africa. My young heart was breaking for all those subjected to cruelties, injustices, and discriminations. I was outraged; crying bitter tears of disappointment and anger.

Since that time I read other books and watched other movies about Africa, and much has changed in the world and in me. However, Roots will always remain my first memory of Africa. The place I long to visit one day for all its mysterious beauty, wild open spaces and sounds that break at dawn.

Invictus was originally released in the USA in December 2009. The movie is based on John Carlin’s book ‘Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation’ and tells a story about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in the country following the dismantling of apartheid.

After 27 years, Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, is released from prison in February 1990. Four years later he is elected the first black President of South Africa. His presidency faces enormous challenges. The country is torn apart from more than 50 years of racial tensions, poverty, and crime is rampant, while black and white Africans are deeply distrustful of each other’s.

Mandela is convinced only reconciliation and forgiveness can unite the country. And only united South Africa can become a proud, successful country.

Once he realizes that the country’s rugby team Springbok can serve as a bridge between divided South Africans, he sets to make it happen. In a year before South Africa is to host 1995 Rugby World Cup, Mandela convinces the country’s newly elected and mostly black sports committee, to support predominantly white Springbok rugby team, even though for many blacks South Africans the team represents white supremacy and all the injustices they suffered under it.

However, Mandela meets the captain of the Springbok team and implies that winning the world cup would unite divided country. Mandela inspires the young captain, François Pienaar, played by Matt Damon, and shares with him the poem Invictus that has inspired him during many long years in prison.

Against all odds and despite the doubts from both black and white South Africans that winning the world cup can unite the nation divided for so long, this is exactly what happened.

Motivated and inspired by Mandela who, in Pienaar’s words; ‘could spend thirty years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put [him] there …’ the young captain motives his team to train with conviction and passion. As the games progress, support for the Springboks begin to grow among the black population, and eventually the whole country comes together to support Pienaar’s and Mandela’s efforts. Before the final game against the All Blacks, the most successful rugby team in the world, the Springbok team visits Robben Island where Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

The Springboks win the match on the added time and in the final scenes Mandela watches the South Africans celebrating together on the crowded streets.

While I am aware that there are different takes on this movie, the fact remains that it tells a story about the man who dedicated every day of his life to a cause so powerful that not only completely consumed his life, but became his only reason for existence.

Nothing, not even his own family, could come between him and his dream of a rainbow nation; free and united South Africa. While the country continuous to struggle with many challenges, as does most of Africa, the legacy of Nelson Mandela remains.

It is only when we give ourselves fully to our calling in life that we achieve great deeds for ourselves and our fellow humans. However dark and difficult our road is, if we know why we travel, if our vision rests on our destination, we will arrive.


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.

William Ernest Henley (August 23, 1849 – July 11, 1903)



Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

30 thoughts on “Invictus”

      1. Oh thank you -:)! I have read ‘Out of Africa’ but have not seen The Ghost and the Darkness, but will look for it now!

        Have a great day (I guess it must be about middle of the day over there under the blue skies of Africa -:))


  1. Did you write that poem? That is awesome! It breathes strength and the power of the soul.

    This reminds me of a story I once heard about a buddhist that was being held captive. I don’t remember the name or anything, I just remember the captive saying something like: “They can tie me up or chain me down and enslave me, they can never touch my soul so I will always have freedom” – something like that. I found it to be incredibly inspiring.


    1. Hi Daan -:)!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting -:)!
      Victorian poet William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus that inspired Mandela during his prison years. Henley suffered from ill health since the age of 12, and you are right his poetry breathes strength and power of the soul which helped him to go on living despite illness and even leg amputation.
      Many thanks,


  2. I read Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton when I was quite young. I did not understand it all at the time, but it left a lasting impression. Roots is also a book that one can’t forget.


    1. Hi -:)

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting -:)!
      Yes, I know that feeling when, even if we cannot necessarily comprehend all the intricacies because of the age, our feelings are still stirred.

      Kind Regards,


  3. I also enjoyed the movie Invictus very much, especially at the end when they showed the actual footage of Mandela in the stadium wearing the shirt and cap of the team (green and yellow if I remember correctly), and greeting Pienaar. Things get changed a step at a time.


    1. Hi -:)

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting. I love that scene too, it was the first time something like that happened as green and yellow represented oppresion for so many. Yes, things do get changed albeit slowly.

      Many thanks,


  4. Ever since high school when i did a book report on Nelson Mandela he has been my source of inspiration. he truly is a gift among men.
    I have not seen this movie but will do so in the very near future.

    Excellent post!!


  5. Yes Mandela is one of the Worlds greatest men, and always will be. In 1981 I marched in protest against allowing the South African rugby team playing here in New Zealand. Mandela was my primary motivator, as he was for many of us protesters. I believe we helped make a difference in South Africa, all inspired by a black man most of us had never and will never meet. That’s the mark of a great individual!
    Ps The only reason the Springboks beat the All Blacks that day was that the All Black team was poisoned the night before the game, most of the team were so sick they had to be rehydrated before the game! So whilst Mandela was great and inspirational, let us not fool ourselves, there was still some dark powers at work in the background, as always seems to be the case in politics. Personally I didn’t really rate the movie, I thought it was politically plastic and certainly didn’t portray what the game of Rugby is about.
    Of course I’m a proud biased Kiwi! LOL


    1. My dear friend,
      It is always nice to find your thoughtful comments, thank you -!
      I know you are proud Kiwi and All Black are certainly the best rugby players in the world, then and now! The game of rugby was used in this context just to provide a background against which to unite South Africans, and to that end it was necessary for them to win. In the great scheme of things, we could see it as a greater good!
      Many thanks for reading and commenting,
      P.S. In some of the related articles I listed at the bottom of this post, some thought provoking views could be found the subject.


  6. I have to say that I really, really wanted to like that movie but instead I sort of came away with a bit of a shrug and “huh.” It felt like it was spending most of it’s time with these drawn out moments of Morgan Freeman staring out into the world, as if we’re supposed to say “yeah, he really IS a great guy.” Much of it felt like it was trying to tell us how great he is rather than show us and let us understand it for ourselves.

    Personal take, anyway. I’d really like to read Mandela’s biography. I bet it would be fascinating!


    1. Hi -:)!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You highlighted very valid point; it is true indeed that a lot has been told rather than shown. I guess that is due to the angle the movie director took and the book the movie was based on. I still liked it mostly because of the message I took from it. The message of the power of personal conviction.

      Many thanks,
      Kind Regards,


  7. There are many people suffering much more than Nelson Mandela and Gandhi in pursuing of their dream and vision, but the extraordinarily path both they have taken is to forgive, and to love, these distinguish them as the among the greatest people of the world.



    1. Hi KC,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting … and I am very sorry for a late response. Those last few weeks have been very busy for me. Indeed you are right, what distinguishes Mandela and Gandhi is their dedication to forgiveness and love.

      Many thanks,


      1. Dear Daniela

        No problem, I have not been too actively lately. I hope to get more inspirations by reading as well, and commenting is a good way to think carefully about the topic I have read, and I do really enjoy your writing.



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