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Songs for Mandela: International edition

Both music about Nelson Mandela and tracks that could stand as tributes to the man.

Nelson Mandela

When we sent around the Africa Is A Country “office” inviting our contributors to suggest songs for Nelson Mandela (both music about him and tracks that could stand as tributes to the man), the suggestions came flooding in. This is the international edition of our Songs for Mandela. It’s a bumper playlist, and in no particular order. Steffan will take us through a blockbuster selection of the many tracks for Mandela by South African artists tomorrow.

We’ll start with Miles Davis, “Amandla”, from his 1989 album of the same name (the whole thing’s here).

Next up it’s Burning Spear, and “Mandela Marcus.”

Jamaican dancehall giant Shabba Ranks, “Mandela Free” (and here’s some footage of when Shabba came to give Madiba a hand on the campaign trail):

Gil Scott-Heron. “Johannesburg”. Enjoy.

From Haiti, this is Dieudonné Larose with a live version of the hit song, “Mandela”:

Here’s Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi with a cracker from his album “Presidents d’Afrique” — “Amandla (Mandela)”. Awadi did a great job splicing in lines from Mandela’s inauguration speech. All rise.

From his 1995 album, “Folon”, this is the great Salif Keita, “Mandela”. On the same album, he sung the praises of Sékou Touré. Keita’s international career took off following his appearance alongside the likes of Youssou N’dour, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela at the massive concert that was held at Wembley for Mandela’s 70th birthday (some clips here — for some reason only of British and American performers).

This is the title track from Youssou N’Dour’s 1986 album, “Nelson Mandela”:

Probably the most famous song campaigning for Mandela’s release, and one of the best-known anti-apartheid tracks around the world, was by a group from … Coventry, England. The Specials got a big hit with “Free Nelson Mandela.”

Let’s hear that again, this time with the much-missed Amy Winehouse on lead vocals. Her rendition closed the concert celebrating Mandela’s 90th birthday in Hyde Park.

Ivorian reggae artist Alpha Blondy tells it like it is. “Apartheid is Nazism.”

We couldn’t not have something from Linton Kwesi Johnson. First up, here’s “Mi Revalueshanary Fren”…

…and secondly “Wat About Di Workin Class?”

Here’s Zambian rapper Zubz with “My Distress”:

“Mandela, cell dweller, Thatcher / You can tell her clear the way for the prophets of rage / (Power of the people you say).” Yes, it’s Public Enemy with “Prophets of Rage.”

From Reggie Rockstone, it’s “Keep Your Eyes on the Road”

Who knew Arsenio Hall could sound so earnest? It’s because he’s introducing Maze and Frankie Beverley with “Mandela.”

The Klezmatics and Chava Alberstein with “Di Goldene Pave” (The Golden Peacock):

We’ll leave the last word to Bob. Rest in peace, Madiba.

*With thanks to Johan Palme, Jimmy Kainja, Gregory Mann, Amílcar Tavares, Serginho Roosblad, Melissa Levin, Siddhartha Mitter, Marissa Moorman, Ngoan’a Nts’oana, Jesse Shipley, Cheta Nwanze, William Glasspiegel, Jonathan Faull, Nick Barber, Zachary Rosen, Jacques Enaudeau, Dylan Valley, Tom Devriendt, Steffan Horowitz and Sean Jacobs for their suggestions on these playlists.*

Source: Africa Is A Country