"A river cuts through rock, not because of it's power, but because of it's persistence."
Breaking Through Bars
When you think of Nelson Mandela, what words come to mind? What characteristics do you think of? Is he strong, courageous, powerful? He is all those things, yet his story of persistence goes far, far deeper.
Nelson Mandela was born in Mvezo, South Africa on July 18th, 1918. During his young life, Mandela often dreamed of making his own contribution to help the people of Africa and the inequalities black people face.
Later in his school life, Mandela began studying for his bachelor of arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare. This was going well for him, but he unfortunately got expelled after taking part in a student protest. After this incident, Nelson traveled to Johannesburg in 1941 to pursue new dreams.
In the year following, 1942, Nelson became increasingly involved in the politics of South Africa. His increased political activity led him to create the ANC Youth League, which fights for the youth of South Africa, and take part of the African National Congress.
In 1952, Mandela and 19 others created a civil disobedient campaign against 6 laws of South Africa. This caused him and the 19 others to be charged with 9 months of hard labor.
This was only the beginning of his life caught up with the law of South Africa. In 1960, police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest that Mandela took part in. This led to the banning of the ANC and the country’s first state of emergency. Mandela was among the many that were detained during this event.
On January 11th, 1962, Mandela Secretly left South Africa. He was charged because of this, and landed himself in prison for 5 years. This inspired him to fight even harder.
Not soon after, in 1963, Mandela and 10 others were put on trial for performing acts of sabotage against the South African system. Despite all the good that Mandela performed, the law overruled him. On June 11th, 1964, he and 7 others were sentenced to life in prison, although he ultimately served 27 after being diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Mandela didn’t give up his fight after getting out of prison. The 27 years he spent behind bars only made him compelled and more inspired to continue his work fighting to end the racial injustice in South Africa. All of his work payed of in 1994 when he was elected president of South Africa.
In 1999, his work as president ended. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t stop working towards his goals. He established the Nelson Mandela foundation, which is still fighting for social justice to this day. Mandela didn’t only fight for equality, but he showed everyone to never give up on what you believe in. His persistence has greatly impacted South Africa. Although he passed away peacefully in 2013, his persistence and vision remains. As Mandela said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up.”
"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again"
Failure turned into Success
Throughout the story A Carp Gives a Lesson in Perseverance, Rosetsu found himself facing a problem. Rosetsu had a passion for art so great that he took lessons from one of the greatest artists of all time; Okyo Maruyama Okyo. Okyo was looked up to by many people, including Rosetsu. It was a shame that he was one of the most uneducated and ignorant students Okyo has ever had. Rosetsu tried his hardest and consistently attempted to improve his art, but his learning was just so slow.
After three years of taking lessons, Rosetsu still remained with the same art abilities he had when he began. This served as a huge problem for Rosetsu. This was his passion, and he wanted to achieve it. He was so upset about his little improvement that he gave up on his dream. He left his classes one day, and was so withdrawn, that he walked and walked all night. Soon he became so tired and so hungry that he tossed himself onto some snow under the pine trees.
You can obviously see how Rosetsu’s failure has become a major problem for not only him but his health. It wasn't until he witnessed a large carp attempting to reach a piece of sembei that Rosetsu became inspired to pursue towards his dream again. The fish must have been jumping for the biscuit for 3 hours, cutting and bruising himself in the process. Rosetsu watched his persistence, motivated to attempt painting again.
Rosetsu soon claimed that “as long as there is a breath in my body I will work to carry out my intention”. He claimed that the carp showed him to solution to his problems; that he will become just like the carp.
Soon Rosetsu’s persistence payed off after realising his solution to the problem he faced. He returned to Okyo and worked his tail off in order to improve. Rosetsu went on to become a well-known painter, one of Japan’s best in fact.
This success was all possible thanks to the persistence that the Carp showed, and The brave Rosetsu who decided to not give up on his dream.
"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Passion for Persistance
Persistence in order to accomplish what you want to is something that Nadja from Nadja on My Way is very familiar with. Throughout her young life, Nadja loved playing the violin. She was good at it, so she stuck with it.
Soon violin became very difficult, and Nadja’s confidence decreased little by little. Eventually, this affected the way she played. Nadja lost all of the talent she had learned throughout the years. This made her feel empty and defeated. Violin was all she’d ever known, so how could she simply stop playing?
In order to get her life back on track, Nadja signed up for violin lessons with Miss DeLay. Although she wasn’t very good at the violin anymore, she persisted in order to get better. Soon, she took and even bigger step to improve by signing up for the 1981 Walter W. Naumberg International Violin Competition. This was something that was scary to Nadja, however she would rather risk failing than live her life wondering “what if?”
In order to win the competition, Nadja worked and persisted very hard. Harder than ever. Nadja consistently practiced, became and hermit inside, had terrible eating habits, and became obsessed with getting better. She was hoping this would all pay off by winning the competition.
And it did. Throughout the competition, Nadja got evicted from her house and was running out of money. This didn’t stop her, only inspired her. She played one of the best pieces she’s ever played at the competition, and was crowned the winner of the competition.
The reason Nadja was given this opportunity to prove herself and travel the world was due to the constant persistence she had. Despite all that came her way, she fought harder than ever. If she hadn’t persisted, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Nadja sets an amazing example for how persistence can lead you to success.
"Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering I will try again tomorrow."
-Mary Anna Radmacher
"A Carp Gives a Lesson in Perseverance." TheGentlemanAnglercom. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2017.
Applebee, Arthur N. McDougal, Littell Literature and Language. Evanston, IL: McDougal, Littell, 1992. Print
"Biography of Nelson Mandela." Nelsonmandela.org. N.p., n.d. Web.
Kwok, Jean. Girl in Translation. Groningen Etc.: Noordhoff, 2013. Print
Salerno-Sonnenberg, Nadja. Nadja, on My Way. New York: Crown, 1989. Print.
Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. N.p.: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, 2017. Print