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Nelson Rolhlahla Mandela (Madiba) was the primary leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa that opposed the systematc segregation of black Africans by an all-white minority. He was the leader of a largely peaceful, but sometimes violent, movement to establish equal rights for all South Africans and was imprisoned for 27 years for his activities. He led the transformation toward a democracy for all races in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela inspired my participation in the anti-apartheid movement during my college years at the Unversity of Rome. When I first heard of his death I felt a great sadness, as if a mentor had died. But my heart was also filled with great hope and pride for the immense legacy and inspiration this amazing person left for all of us.

As we start a new year, I like to send my best wishes to our readers of this blog. Many of you are involved in making a difference in your organizations and communities around the world…This time I want to wish you a little of Mandela’s courage, determination and ability to understand the essential and the expendable in the work ahead. I want to do it with this poem “INVICTUS” (Latin for unconquered) by William Ernest Henley.

To all people, from all walks of life, as a celebration of Nelson Mandela, as an inspiration to continue to “stay in the game” and as an eloquent reminder of the indomitable spirit that it might very well take to move to the edges of our breakthroughs next year.

I wish you a happy 2014!

“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