Brenda Fassie’s “Black President” is still the standard-bearer for Mandela tribute songs. Fassie did this one while Mandela was still in prison in the late 1980s. She also claimed they were related. But that’s another story.

There’s a few others that come close.

Santana (featuring Wayne Shorter), “Mandela” (live version). Check the poster of Mandela in front of the keyboard. Based on Mandela’s profile before he went to prison, they were ubiqituous throughout the 1980s when Mandela truly emerged as a global figure:

Vusi Mahlasela, “When You Come Back Home,” which Mahlasela released two years after Mandela was released:

Johnny Clegg’s “Asimbonanga”: This was a standard for Clegg during 1980s with his band Savuka. In this live version performed in 1999, Mandela joins Clegg on stage and then gives a speech and ask the crowd to join him.

Not everyone will agree whether this is Clegg’s best performance of the song. This version may sound better.

Then there’s Special AKA’s “Free Nelson Mandela” from the early 1980s. Some good British ska.  [If you can’t see it, click here.]

Finally, Hugh Masekela brings showbiz to the struggle with “Bring Back Nelson Mandela.” He’ll give anything some swing.


Further Reading

Singing truth to power

When Ugandan police imprisoned Bobi Wine in his own home, the singer-turned-lawmaker used the internet, music and multiple languages to craft a call for solidarity between civilians and security forces.

The Fighters

Are the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of Julius Malema primed for the greatest gains in South Africa’s May 8th national and provincial elections?