Mandela, the music man: 10 tunes to remember him by

2013-12-07 10:28

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Over the years Nelson Mandela has inspired musicians to write about him and the struggle against apartheid. Lesley Mofokeng shares his playlist of the top 10 tunes to remember him by

1 Asimbonanga – Johnny Clegg

Arguably the most popular song about Mandela during the cultural boycott, this sentimental tribute pulls at the heartstrings and is delivered powerfully by Clegg. With its memorable words, it has become the soundtrack following Mandela’s passing the world over.

2 Mandela (Bring Him Back Home) – Hugh Masekela

The defiant song about Mandela returning to Soweto to walk hand in hand with his wife, Winnie Mandela, was a hit at Mandela’s 70th birthday concert at London’s Wembley Stadium. It has a lively beat with Masekela’s trumpet blaring incessantly.

3 Gimme Hope Jo’anna – Eddie Grant

This song fuelled many a party in the 80s, with a reggae-tinged Caribbean feel. It’s an indictment on apartheid. Grant sings: I wanna know if you’re blind Jo’anna/If you wanna hear the sound of drum/Can’t you see that the tide is turning/Oh, don’t make me wait till the morning come.

4 Black President – Brenda Fassie

The song opens with a historic interview with Mandela before the Rivonia Trial and goes into an upbeat and catchy singalong mode. Fassie pours out her emotions in the song, an early celebration for Mandela, who was not yet president of South Africa, although the song was prophetic.

5 Nongqongqo – Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte

From the Grammy award-winning Evening With Belafonte and Makeba, the song also known as To Those We Love is a touching a capella tribute to the imprisoned leaders of the struggle. Walter Sisulu and Robert Sobukwe and of course, Mandela, feature prominently in the song which is just two minutes long.

6 Mzee Mandela – Khadja Nin

Sung in Swahili by the Burundi star, it is impassioned and touching. The title means Old Man Mandela and it pays tribute to the South African leader who was a father to all. Nin’s tender vocals makes this a special song.

7 Nelson Mandela – The Specials

While the song is fun and upbeat, it has a stern message that at the time of its release was provocative and was banned in South Africa. It pleaded with the apartheid regime to release Mandela, asking: Are you so blind that you cannot see/Are you so deaf that you cannot hear/Are you so dumb that you cannot speak?

8 Nelson Mandela – Youssou N’dour

Bursting with energy and jazzy vibes, N’Dour’s celebratory lilting lyrics locate Madiba as an African leader who belongs to the continent, not just South Africa.

9 I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

The song, dedicated to Nelson Mandela by Wonder, won an Oscar Award and in his acceptance speech he dedicated it to the then imprisoned Mandela. As a result Wonder’s music was banned in South Africa.

10 Mandela – Zahara featuring Mzwakhe Mbuli

Released at a time the nation was on tenterhooks during Mandela’s extended stay in hospital earlier this year, this soul-stirring song provided comfort and immortalised the spirit of Mandela and what he stood for.

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