I was involved in the struggle against apartheid from 1970 onwards. Whilst I was involved in all sorts of campaigns in the 70s and early 80s, it was the 1988 70th Birthday Concert for Mandela that lifted to campaign to new heights. And central to this new phase was music – joyous, liberatory, defiant, music. Below is my own, completely idiosyncratic, ‘top ten’ bits of music that – for me – symbolise the striggel against one of the world’s most evil regimes – apartheid South Africa
Nelson Mandela – Specials – the song that more than any other captured the spirit of the campaign. (join the campaign to make this the Christmas number one for 2013)
Mandela Day – Simple Minds
Mandela (live) – Hugh Masakela
Mandela – Salif Keita
Mandela – Santana
Biko – Peter Gabriel – the song that became an anthem for a new generation of anti-apartheid activists in the late 80s.
Impi – Johnny Clegg – once a song buy a despised progressive, now the unofficial anthem of the Springboks. The world turns.
Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City – Steven van Zant
You have placed a chill on my heart – Annie Lennox – a she sang it at the Birthday concert in 1988, dedicated to Madiba – chilling indeed.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika – nuff said.
Finally, I’d add a tribute to George Michael. he performed a magical set of three numbers by black artists in 1988. As he came off stage a somewhat naive TV reporter asked him “was there any significance to you choosing to cover songs from three bald artists?” To which George replied: “what do you think?”