Music – To simply praise Tata in song

2010-07-17 10:34

It wasn’t until the mid-80s that the chorus of Mandela

praise-singing reached a crescendo.

There were more subdued murmurs in the 60s and 70s, but Mandela’s

70th ­birthday concert at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 11 1988 marked a

­watershed moment as Mandela protest songs became fashionable and the calls

“free Mandela” and “free South Africa” were amplified.

The worldwide campaign to end apartheid made Mandela the cause

célébre, and his face was catapulted to iconic status fuelled by pop


He may have been digging quarries on Robben Island, but his name

inspired banners, flyers and placards, and a soundtrack for the youth born into

the struggle.

After he finally walked free from the former ­Victor Verster prison

in ­ February 1990, Mandela endeared ­himself to many with his penchant for

­taking to the floor to boogie in his trademark Madiba jive, or the shuffle as

it became known.

He even spawned a kwaito dance fad that lasted until the early


With the incapacity of old age, ­Mandela is missed on the dance

floor and, like the Madiba shirts, the Madiba jive fad has passed.

But to a generation of “born frees” this is probably how ­Mandela

will be remembered: the ­grey-haired, ever-smiling grandfather who loved

children and dancing.

The songs, by which we remember Mandela, range from upbeat party

starters to the subdued and heavy, all in celebration of the man in his glory.


10 Mandela songs

1 Black President – Brenda Fassie (1989)

2 Free Nelson Mandela – The

Specials (1984)

3 Asimbonanga (Mandela) – Johnny

Clegg (1987)

4 Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) – Hugh Masekela


5 Mandela – Salif Keita (1995)

6 We Miss You Manelo –

Chicco Twala (1987)

7 Let Him Go – Yvonne Chaka

Chaka (1987)

8 Nelson Mandela – Youssou

N’Dour (1985)

9 Mzee Mandela – Khadja Nin (1998)

10 Show us the way – Mbongeni Ngema (Sarafina) (1992)

Bonus track

Nelson Mandela Ha ­Hona Ya

Tshwanang Le Yena (a popular chorus sung in Parliament when he attends)

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