Invictus - Preface

Invictus (Illustration) Biographies Trials Censorship Civil Rights Famous Historical Events Famous People Film Poetry Social Studies Sports World History

Nelson Mandela tells us how he got his name: "No one in my family had ever attended school [...] On the first day of school my teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave each of us an English name. This was the custom among Africans in those days and was undoubtedly due to the British bias of our education. That day, Miss Mdingane told me that my new name was Nelson. Why this particular name I have no idea." Image of Mandela, in 2008, by South Africa The Good News. License: CC BY 2.0


I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

From Invictus,
by  William Ernest Henley 

It is the late 1940s in South Africa.  New laws, impacting racial segregation, herald an ominous future for people of color who live at the southern tip of the African continent

Over the coming decades, the plight of black South Africans will worsen.  Although they are the majority in their country, they have no say in government because they cannot vote in national elections. 

How can they be masters of their fate when they are not even allowed to live where they wish?


When people were crowded into sub-standard housing, in the Johannesburg area of Sowetto (standing for "South Western Townships"), racial tensions began to flare.  Nelson Mandela, a lawyer and anti-apartheid leader, also had a home in Sowetto.  He would rise to become the leader of his nation - South Africa - but it would take years before that happened.  Image of Sowetto homes by Matt-80, online via Wikimedia Commons.  License:  CC BY-2.0 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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