Songs about Nelson Mandela

An image of Nelson Mandela, on the background the flag of the ANC.

An image of Nelson Mandela. On the background the flag of the ANC.

Nelson Mandela was the leader of the ANC, the National African Congres. This organisation fought for the rights of the black people. They wanted them to be treated just like white people. The ANC was seen as an illegal terrorist organization. The organization used violence to reach their goals. Nelson Mandela was wanted by the police and eventually he was found and prisoned. In 1964 he was sentenced for life. He was imprisoned as a terrorist, convicted of participation in sabotage actions and using violence. His only real crime was to rid his country of the atrocities of apartheid and attempt to bring about democracy and equality for all.

Nelson en Winnie Mandela

Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie Mandela.
Source: telegraph

Imprisoners who were having time because of their fight against the racial discrimination got the worst treatment. They got worse food and worse clothes than the other prisoners. In the second prison where Nelson Mandela stayed he had to work hard. One of the things he had to do was to split rocks. In prison he was not allowed to read and talk to the other prisoners. He was also not allowed to receive many visitations. He was married to Winnie Mandela, but he almost never saw her when he was in prison.

In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released, after 27 years in prison. Four years after his release from prison he became the first black president of South Africa.

Free Nelson Mandela 
Free Nelson Mandela is a protest song performed by The Specials. This song is against the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. The composer of the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ is Jerry Dammers. He went to an anti- apartheid concert in Londen, which gave him the idea for writing the song. (Wikipedia user 173.31.131.210, 2013) The song reached No. 9 in the UK charts and was immensely popular in Africa.

For Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday in 1988 was a remake of the song released.

At Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday the song Free Nelson Mandela was played again. The lead singer was Amy Winehouse.

In 2010 Free Nelson Mandela was chosen to be one of the twenty best protest songs. On this list Free Nelson Mandela ended at the second place.

Lyrics

Free Nelson Mandela
Free free
Free free free Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela

21 years in captivity
Shoes too small to fit his feet
His body abused, but his mind is still free
You’re so blind that you cannot see

Free Nelson Mandela

Visited the causes at the AMC
Only one man in a large army
You’re so blind that you cannot see
You’re so deaf that you cannot hear him

Free Nelson Mandela

21 tears in captivity
You’re so blind that you cannot see
You’re so deaf that you cannot hear him
You’re so dumb that you cannot speak

Free Nelson Mandela

This track is different than the most protest songs. This track is upbeat and celebratory while most protest songs aren’t.

Free Nelson Mandela is not a song just for personal freedom but for the freedom of a nation. When this song was released, Nelson Mandela was 21 years in captivity. This song is about Nelson Mandela imprisoned for a cause he believed in. The part “You’re so blind that you cannot see, you’re so deaf that you cannot hear him, you’re so dumb that you cannot speak.” was directed to the white government.

Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)
Another song about Nelson Mandela is called ‘ Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)’. This song is
composed and sung by Hugh Masekela. The song was released in 1987.

Lyrics

Bring back Nelson Mandela.
Bring him back home to
Soweto.
I want to see him walking
down the streets in South Africa – Tomorrow.
Bring Back Nelson Mandela.
Bring him back home to
Soweto.
I want to see him walking down the street
with Winnie Mandela.

In the lyrics Hugh Masekela sings about Nelson Mandela, he wants him to be released from prison. (Setrar, 2013) He wants him to go back home to Soweto, a city in South Africa. Nelson Mandela used to live there for many years.

After the release of the song it became a big success. The song even became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela.

Asimbonanga
Another song which called for the release of Nelson Mandela is ‘Asimbonanga’ sung by Johnny Clegg.

Click here if you’d like to read the lyrics and the translation of the African language to English.

Black president
Brenda Fassie, an anti-apartheid South African singer, sung also a song for Nelson Mandela. The song is called black president and was released in 1990, the year that Nelson Mandela was set free from prison.  (Bermond, 2012)

Just like Nelson Mandela she lived for a while in the city Soweto. After her success her life became more tragic. She had drug problems and eventually she slipped into a coma brought on by an overdose of cocaine. In the hospital she was visited by Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Thirteen days after she slipped into a coma she died.

Lyrics

The year 1963
The people’s president
Was taken away by security men
All dressed in a uniform
The brutality, brutality
Oh, no, my black president

Him and his comrades
Were sentenced to isolation
For many painful years
For many painful years
Many painful years
Of hard labor

They broke rocks
But the spirit was never broken
Never broken
Oh, no, my, my black president

Let us rejoice for our president
Let us sing for our president
Let us pray for our president
Let us sing, let us dance
For Madiba, Madiba’s freedom

Now in 1990
The people’s president
Came out from jail
Raised up his hand and said
“Viva, viva, my people”
He walked the long road
Back, back to freedom
Back, back to freedom
Freedom for our president

Let us rejoice for our president
Let us sing for our president
Let us pray for our president
Let us sing, let us dance
For Madiba, Madiba’s freedom

I will die for my president
I will sing for my president

I will stand and say
Viva, viva, viva, viva, viva, viva my president

In the beginning of this song she describes the moment Nelson Mandela was arrested. She sings about his pain and about him when he had to break rocks in prison. In the refrain she asks people to rejoice, sing and pray for their president. She also calls him ‘Madiba’, that’s his clan name. The whole song is an ode to Nelson Mandela.

When you come back
Two years after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Vusi Mahlasela published the song ‘When you come back’.

Click here if you’d like to read the lyrics.

Written by Janita Elings

APA- LIST

Wikipedia, user: 173.31.131.210(2013, May 9). The specials. Retrieved from HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/THE_SPECIALS on May 12, 2013.

Anonymous. Nelson Mandela prison. Retrieved from HTTP://WWW.NELSONMANDELAS.COM/FREE-MANDELA-PRISON.PHP on May 12, 2013.

Wikipedia, user: The Madras (2013, May 10). Nelson Mandela. Retrieved from HTTP://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/NELSON_MANDELA on May 12, 2013.

Anonymous. Nelson Mandela prison. Retrieved from HTTP://WWW.NELSONMANDELAS.COM/FREE-MANDELA-PRISON.PHP on May 12, 2013.

Smith, I.K,& Thompson, J. (2010, March 25). Top 20 political songs. In New Statesman. HTTP://WWW.NEWSTATESMAN.COM/MUSIC/2010/03/TOP-20-POLITICAL-SONGS on May 12, 2013.

Wikipedia, user: Goudsblom (2012, December 27). Free Nelson Mandela. HTTP://NL.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/FREE_NELSON_MANDELA on May 12, 2013.

Wikipedia, user: Setrar (2013, May 1). Hugh Masekela. HTTP://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/HUGH_MASEKELA on May 13, 2013

Wikipedia, user: Bermond (2012, November 30). Brenda Fassie. HTTP://NL.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/BRENDA_FASSIE on May 13, 2013.

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