Now, I’m not one easily given to emotion. I have sat down at times, and upon deep reflection, I have come to a conclusion that I merely hide it better than most, which is a good thing because I’m all for mastering our situations and circumstances.
Be that as it may, the South African story, or more on-point, the Nelson Mandela-South Africa story has never ceased to inspire me, or move me to tears as the occasion may warrant. Granted, 27 years is a long time to be put out of circulation, but the way in which the man went about rebuilding his country’s confidence in itself, amid Table Mountain-sized odds and grievances, is truly remarkable. I don’t imagine myself forgiving a people, who by action or association incarcerated me for 27 good years on the bleak Robben Island, and only released me because the pressure being brought upon them was approaching 50 atmospheres. The ease with which he forgave, and probably to a lesser extent, forgot, despite being in a militant state of mind prior to imprisonment, is worthy of emulation.
But the man himself, or the struggle, isn’t what moves me to tears, or what wants to make me go out there and reach Mount Everest’s summit in my birthday suit. I love art in its different forms, be it music, drama, the fine arts, or literature. I don’t know if that fact makes me more biased than usual, but I don’t imagine most people not falling under the spell of this monstrous piece of art. The most remarkable thing is that I only know the first words of this song – Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika – and its meaning – God Bless Africa. A while ago, while I did my private screening of Invictus, I was almost moved to tears as the song was played. More important than the breaching of tear bowel limits was the hair-raising, tingling feeling of being on the verge of achievement, the type you get when you are one of the starters in the final of the Olympics 100 meter dash – without Usain Bolt, and now, Yohann Blake, mind you. You could also liken that feeling I got to the immense feeling of pride after an audacious achievement, like being on the podium after that 100 meter dash I told you of earlier, and listening to your nation’s national anthem reverberating around a packed stadium. The circumstances may have been mitigating, but I’m still trying to figure out exactly what may have predisposed me to this kind of feeling, asides the song. I’m still at it, and I haven’t found out.
I leave you with the choicest words in these circumstances – Alexander Pope’s “Hope springs eternal” and the first words of South Africa’s national anthem, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, God Bless Africa”. There’s hope still for our nation, there’s hope still for our continent.
Invictus is a movie about post-apartheid South Africa. The suspicions and mistrust obviously have not been swept aside overnight, and the people are having a hard time thinking, not to talk of acting, like one nation. The genius that is Nelson Mandela devises the perfect unifying tool, and it is not a particle accelerator invented by Robben Island inmates-turned-scientists. It is simply Rugby. The right to host the Webb Ellis trophy had been won by South Africa, so, Madiba turns on his exceptional inspirational skills, and with the help of Springboks captain, Francois Piennar, SA does the unthinkable. The Webb Ellis Cup is going nowhere, it is staying right there, in the Ellis Park Stadium, and the country associated with it. Individuals of different races who couldn’t bear the sight of each other not quite long ago actually embraced in the enveloping euphoria that follows that kind of amazing, against-the-odds success at sports. President Mandela is played by Morgan Freeman. There’s some sort of semblance, and the Oscar-winning Hollywood veteran shows why Oscar-winning director, Clint Eastwood (of that “chair” fame), is never far away when you spot Morgan in the line-up. That combination is probably due another big award. Springboks captain Francois Piennar is played by Matt Damon, who continues to show his versatility in the different difficult roles he’s had to play throughout his career, be it off-your-rockers comedy, or seat-edge action. The Haka, New Zealand’s All Blacks famous routine tickles my fancy anytime, and does so in this movie. The heavy stomping, aggressive body movement and chanting can intimidate, trust me. A little research, and I found out that it is in fact a traditional dance of the Maori people of New Zealand. Cool. I’d like to learn it someday.
Kayode Faniyi, @Il__Duce, can be found on Twitter where he’s not usually near tears.