9.000 dreams

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. –


1982. Robben Island´s 466/64 prisoner digs out white stone with his bare hands, like he has done every day for the last 18 years. At sunset he extends his aching back over a straw mat whilst his mind takes flight and dreams. He dreams of uniting his beloved land. He dreams of conquering the enemies that strangled South Africa for so many years.

1994. Nelson Mandela is elected fist President of the South African Democracy. Mandela. Living symbol of the fight against apartheid attained power with new weapons, integrity, generosity, greatness of spirit. Mandela. Peace Nobel Prize, Principe de Asturias, Ambassador of Conscience. Shrouded in the twilight of the distant city of Memphis, Morgan Freeman looks in the mirror and dreams. He dreams of embodying Madiba, the statesman of Qunu. He dreams of finding a story capable of transmitting the power and charisma of this unique leader.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed. –

1995.  Inside Pretoria’s Palace, the President finds his country divided after 50 years of hatred. The oppressed clamour for vengeance, the Afrikaners are fearful. The urns are of little use in a nation immersed in chaos and threatened by the ghost of civil war. Mandela needs a miracle. Sport will show him the way.

2008. John Carlin publishes “Playing the enemy” which unveils the keys to the South African unification surrounding Mandela and rugby. Morgan Freeman has finally found his story, now he needs a team on par with the Nobel winner. He chooses Clint Eastwood, the director who tended him the Oscar for Million Dollar Baby, and Matt Damon, the young actor and Oscar winner, to stand opposite himself. The result is the film Invictus.  A celebration on the first 20 years of the new South Africa.

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.

1995. The Rugby World Cup is played for the first time in South Africa. This is the President’s opportunity. However Rugby was the symbol of racial division, the Afrikaner king sport. Mandela’s streak of genius was to support and promote the Springboks, a demoralized and leaderless team. Against all odds, the South African team makes it to the finals against the All Blacks from New Zealand.

June 23rd. François Pienaar (Matt Damon), captain of the South African team, dreams of victory. However he doesn’t count on it. His rival’s supremacy on the final is overwhelming. Morgan Freeman transmuted in Madiba gives him a note containing the poem that helped him to get through 9.000 days of imprisonment. Invictus, the William Ernest Henley chant to overcoming and inspiration.

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.

June 24th . Ellis Park Stadium witnesses the miracle. Minutes before the game begins, President Mandela goes out to greet the players wearing the number 6 Springboks t-shirt -captain Pienaar´s number- on his back. The South African team will play for Mandela. And after overtime they conquered a victory that united black and white in an historic embrace.  A Victory that fulfilled Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela´s dreams.

Invictus. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Morgan Freeman y Matt Damon. USA 2009.

“INVICTUS”  

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

(Post translated from Spanish  9.000 sueños by M. da Silva)

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