Famous Personalities: Nelson Mandela And Okonkwo

Nelson Mandela plays the protagonist in the film, Invictus as Okonkwo’s role is also the protagonist. Both characters define themselves in their own unique yet similar ways at the beginning through each of their social crisis. However, as each social crisis progresses, it eventually impacts their definition of self and society.

After being released from prison after nearly 26 years, Mandela was elected for president of South Africa that also led to the end of apartheid in South Africa. He literally started from the bottom and worked his way to the top. He was defined as a strong, independent leader that was determined for unity amongst his citizens and his specific way of doing this was through rugby. For example of Mandela’s personality and reasoning, when his head of security approached him concerned that he needed more security in addition to his four black men, Mandela responded by hiring four white men. This forced the men to interact with each other and work amongst the racial tension at the beginning. He is a man of peace, loyalty, and wants to solve problems even with the accusations against him. Mandela use rugby to unite the country together. By doing so, he asks the team to keep their name the Springboks instead of changing it and he does reach the amount of votes needed, so they kept the name. He also reveals to François the poem that got him through his imprisonment and allowed him to hold onto his true identity through hard times as well as ways to stay motivated even during really stressful times. When doing so, he also suggests to François that winning a match in the Cup would benefit Afrikaners and other tribes that constitute South Africa. He also mentions a certain song the team sings before every match and actually makes all the team players learn it word for word instead of the typical mumble through the song. Mandela reflects his compassionate and pessimistic personality by attempting and eventually succeeding to unite the country of South Africa together by a sport. The story took a turn where Mandela was found unconscious outside of his home and had to go on bed rest however he is also very stubborn, especially when it comes to the rugby team. Mandela’s actions also impacted society as we see at the final match a jet approaching the stadium and the security guards extremely nervous for the safety of most importantly Mandela, and then the people of South Africa. However what convinced viewers there was going to be a terrorist attack, the jet flew right above the stadium with “Go Springboks” painted on the bottom of the jet leaving the crowd cheering.

Okonkwo was the type of man to purposely do things the opposite way his father did and also values the concept of manliness immensely. He doesn’t even like music because he considers it to be too “soft.” He is also really apathetic and strived for wealth and success, the opposite life of what his father had. His traits are what are the main factors in his success. However Okonkwo found himself in the same position his father found himself in when his values began to drift from those of the community, when the white man arrived to live with the Umuofians.profligate, cowardly, gentle, and interested in music and conversation. Okonkwo consciously adopts opposite ideals and becomes productive, wealthy, thrifty, brave, violent, and adamantly opposed to music and fathers several children. Nevertheless, just as his father was at odds with the values of the community. As the story progresses and he is asked as a leader to take in a young boy that goes by the name of Ikemefuna. Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye, develops a brotherly bond with IKemefuna and Okonkwo looks at him as a son. As the book goes on, Okonkwo develops into a very irritable and explosive man which is displayed when he beats his wife, Ojiugo because she forgot to feed her children lunch unintentionally. His second wife, Ekwefi was brutally beaten and also received a gunshot wound from Okonkwo because she took leaves from his banana plant, revealing is anger is only progressing as the story continues. The viewer sees Okonkwo's identity deteriorate into a very violent man that was no longer a figure to look up too, but to run away from. Ogbuefi, the oldest man in their village, tells Okonkwo that Ikemefuna must be murdered for retaliation for an earlier murder of a Umuofian woman, however he firmly instructs Okonkwo not to participate in the murder. Okonkwo, being the stubborn man that valued manliness thought it would be a sign of weakness if he didn’t take part in it, therefor he killed him with his machete. He began depressed after the murder of Ikemefuna and seeks out a person to confide in and immediately refers to his best friend Obierika. Obierika unveils to Okonkwo his objection to Ikemefuna’s death and informs Okonkwo basically what goes around, comes back around. During the funeral of Ogbuefi, Okonkwo’s gun accidentally fires and Ogbuefi son was killed. Even tho the death was an accident, his family must be shunned from Umuofia for seven years. Okonkwo became depressed for not reaching lasting success over time. Upon Okonkwo’s return to Umuofia, he comes back to a completely different community which isn’t fond of. Religion was different, government, etc. During a meeting for the clansmen, Okonkwo kills one of the five court messengers with his machete, similar to what he did to Ikemefuna. He comes to the realization they will never go to war and Umuofia and everything, like the title, has fallen apart. He then hung himself and died. He went from the bottom, to the top, and unfortunately found his way back to the bottom when he became violent over time. His character was nonetheless complicated.

Okonkwo differs from Nelson Mandela in the sense that he lets power and wealth take the best of him, and eventually his life. Mandela’s personality was about bringing peace, as Okonkwo strived for wealth and to be respected, but hurts his identity along the way attempting to reach those titles.

11 February 2020
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