by Naomi on July 21, 2010

in Inspiration

Magnificence is magnified.

SUNSET in the old Transkei, now Eastern Cape, South Africa

This image is particularly special and apt for today’s thought, because I shot it recently from the roadside South-West of Mthatha (Umtata) and close to Qunu, which is where Nelson Mandela grew up. The region falls within what was the Transkei, a homeland of the Xhosa-speaking people during apartheid years. It was reintegrated into South Africa in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became President, and now forms part of the Eastern Cape province. Shortly after taking this photo, we came across the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, which showcases the gifts he has received from all corners of the globe.

Since Madiba’s birthday has just passed, marked by Mandela Day around the world, here are two quotes to consider that bear particular relevance to him:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’.

Part of the passage is said to have been quoted by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech, although this is apparently not conclusive. I don’t remember the speech well enough to say for sure, but either way, Madiba certainly embodies everything contained in these words, as well as the following poem, narrated by Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in the movie of the same name:

INVICTUS – 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.

If you’re interested in my thoughts (as a South African) about this film, then here’s a link to my review: Invictus

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

nrhatch August 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I’m flipping through your posts and nodding along ~ so many similarities in our subject matter. I’ve used Marianne Williamson’s quote, Our Deepest Fear. And I’ve done a post on the movie Invictus.

The universal light emits parallel sparks for us to grasp
Even in the stillness, the cosmos swirls.
Even when silence reigns, we hear its heartbeat.


Naomi August 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

What lovely words, Nancy! Thank you so much for your comments. It’s wonderful to come across a distant soul on a similar path, especially one who’s aware of our South African situation 🙂


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