In the movie Mandela relates that when times were the worst, threatening to bring him to his knees in despair, he was carried through by the poem "Invictus".
Written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley, here is it for you:
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.
Truly inspiring, and worthy of meditation by us all.
But I do not want to leave you with only the poem. I encourage you to contemplate its spiritual aspects for life, as Mr. Mandela obviously did. Upon his release from prison, Mr. Mandela continued the work of ending apartheid. In 1994 he was elected President.
Now began the work of rebuilding a nation and bringing together its peoples after years of hatred, violence, and mutual distrust between Black and White, rich and poor, the oppressor and the oppressed. Mr. Mandela united his country behind, (of all things), their all White, continually losing national rugby team.
As both the team and the country moved beyond past conflicts to a common shared belief, the team went on to win the World Cup of Rugby in 1995. As Mr. Mandela told his daughter in the movie: the mistakes of the past are not overcome by continuing them into the future, but by forgiveness and unity born of common strengths.
Mr. Mandela not only voiced these principles but lived them, while encouraging a nation to do the same.