Born in 1918, Nelson Mandela died at 95, a former South African President and a freedom fighter. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (in xhosa) has inspired a lot of songwriters in his work against social injustice and South African apartheid. Many rock songs have been written for Nelson Mandela, for Africa, and for the plight of South Africa in particular. These songs have been written by some of the most prolific songwriters of our time. Here are the top 10 songs about Nelson Mandela and Africa:
1 - Africa Suite: Brothers and Sisters of Africa by Manfred Mann's Earth Band , from the "Somewhere in Afrika" album.
Brothers and Sisters of Africa, It's still the same;
The words they use are just a game
2 - Mandela Day by Simple Minds A beautiful song about the day he was freed.
3 - Biko by Peter Gabriel , from his third solo album. Originally written for Steve Biko who was arrested in South Africa in 1977 and died in prison after a rough interrogation. The song is equally pertinent to Mr. Mandela and fitting for a tribute to his birthday.
4 - It' a Long Walk to Freedom performed by the "Number 46664" cast, Queen (Brian May, Roger Taylor), Bono (U2), and Dave Stewart (Eurythmics).
5 - One Vision by Queen . Freddie Mercury was originally from Zanzibar Africa before moving to the UK. Written about equal rights, the band always believed strongly about this and other world issues.
6 - A South African Story by Johnny Clegg, a South African songwriter.
7 - Free Nelson Mandela by The Specials (1984) The famous ska band made this song popular in the 80s. The energy and upbeat tone of this song made it a nice change of pace from other protest songs. It's still very cool, give it a new listen this year.
8 - Give Me Hope Jo'anna by Eddie Grant
9 - Africa by Toto (1982) I bless the rains down in Africa...
10 - Under African Skies by Paul Simon from the Graceland album.
Bonus Track: Times They are a Changin' by Bob Dylan was not actually written for Mandela, but the lyrics fit the struggle of South Africa. Plus: Talkin' Bout a Revolution by Tracy Chapman
We will always remember Nelson Mandela in these songs.