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Nelson Mandela Day: 5 African Songs That Honours The African Hero

The thirteenth installation also marks the tenth anniversary of Nelson Mandela's celebration of life (since his death on December 5, 2013).

Nelson Mandela Day
Nelson Mandela [Britannica]

Nelson Mandela is a symbol of hope, temerity, and freedom to many around the world, even in death. The impact of his legacy goes beyond his firm stance against apartheid, as the South African icon represents a global idea of what it means to be resilient and selfless in humanitarian service. 

Every July 18, on his birthday (since declared by the United Nations in 2009), International Nelson Mandela Day is celebrated to remind the world about the emulating principles and qualities of Madiba, such as leadership, servitude, patience, and kindness. The celebration is a call to action for all to act accordingly for the greater good of human nature.

The 13th edition of the celebration is centred on raising awareness of global climate change and food insecurity. The thirteenth installation also marks the tenth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s celebration of life (since his death on December 5, 2013).

To honour the cultural icon, here are five African songs about Nelson Mandela;

Vusi Mahlasela – When You Come Back

With a powerful opening phrase, the voice of Legendary South African folk singer Vusi Mahlasela serenades on about a hypothetical protagonist in his 1992 anti-apartheid regime classic ‘When You Come Back’.  Although Mahlasela doesn’t reference Nelson Mandela directly, the song speaks about the struggles of an African hero who comes back home to a warm reception characterized by percussive timbres. The song falls two years after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

Salif Keita – Mandela 

Legendary Malian singer and songwriter Salif Keita scored a tribute to Nelson Mandela with his 1995 song ‘Mandela’. The song came five years after the Icon’s famous exoneration and a year after becoming South Africa’s first black president.

Brenda Fassie – Black President

Black President is a song by the late Brenda Fassie. The song was released in 1990 and talks about the ex communication of Nelson Mandela in 1963 dating forward to his release in 1990. 

Hugh Masekela – Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)

In 1986, the late South African Jazz musician Hugh Masekela penned and recorded an anti-apartheid anthem demanding the release of Nelson Mandela – while ironically in exile himself. It wasn’t until a year later that he released the song. The song was one of the most performed songs by the multi-instrumentalist up until his demise.

Prophets of Da City – Never Again 

South African hip-hop group, Prophets of Da City released Never Again in 1994. A song that champions anti-apartheid themes and Nelson Mandela’s legacy with the opening lines “Excellent, Finally A Black President.”

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