#NelsonMandela: His story in books, films and songs

by Oke Efagene


The father of freedom and global icon for peace, Nelson Mandela, passed away on Thursday night, in his home after a long battle with lung infection.

Many around the world has paid tribute to the great man since the news of his death was announced.

Over the years, from his imprisonment till his eventful freedom, singers and writers all over the globe, have document the life of Mandela through their books, films and songs.

The Nation reports:

“How, now, now, Margaret Thatcher, ye, ye, ye, free Mandela,” was a song from the fading Nigerian reggae star Majek Fashek. He released the single, “Free Mandela”, in 1992. His was one of the several albums waxed in the late Madiba’s name.

Aside Majek, Nigerian music stars such as King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal also sang about the Madiba and his travails.

Non-African artists also were part of the fray. One of the most popular was from The Special AKA who recorded the song “Free Nelson Mandela” in 1983. Stevie Wonder dedicated his 1985 Oscar for the song “I Just Called to Say I Love You” to Mandela, resulting in his music being banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. In 1985, Youssou N’Dour’s album Nelson Mandela was the Senegalese artist’s first United States release.

In 1988, the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at London’s Wembley Stadium was a focal point of the anti-apartheid movement, with many musicians voicing their support for Mandela. Simple Minds wrote and performed the song “Mandela Day” for the concert. The song is on their next album released six months later.

Also, Santana recorded the instrumental “Mandela”, Tracy Chapman performed “Freedom Now” on her album Crossroads, Salif Keita from Mali, in 1995, recorded the song “Mandela” on his album Folon and Whitney Houston performed and dedicated the gospel song “He I Believe”.

His countrymen were not left out. Hugh Masekela, in exile in the UK, sang “Bring Him Back Home Nelson Mandela” in 1987. Brenda Fassie’s 1989 song “Black President”, was hugely popular even though it was banned in South Africa. Also, Johnny Clegg’s album Third World Child in 1987 contained the song “We Have Not Seen Him”.

In 1990, Hong Kong rock band Beyond released a popular Cantonese song, “Days of Glory”. It featured featured lyrics referring to Mandela’s heroic struggle for racial equality. The group Ladysmith Black Mambazo accompanied Mandela to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway in 1993, and performed for his inauguration in 1994.

Raffi’s song “Turn This World Around” is based on a speech given by Mandela where he explained the world needs to be “turned around, for the children”. A summary of his life was part of the 2006 music video “If Everyone Cared” by Nickelback. Singer-songwriter Ampie du Preez and cricketer AB de Villiers wrote a song called “Madibaland” in honour of Mandela. It featured as the 4th and 14th tracks on their album, “Maak Jou Drome Waar”.

Books, such as autobiography ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, published in 1994, ‘Mandela: The Authorised Biography’ and ‘Goodbye Bafana’, also told the story of the life of the Madiba.

His story was also told in films and television series. They include: the 1997 film Mandela and de Klerk, Goodbye Bafana and Invictus.

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