Former South African president Nelson Mandela, 94, is currently critically ill in a hospital in Pretoria. where he has been attempting for some time to fight off a recurring lung infection. Now Mandela is reportedly unable to breath unaided. After visiting him late Wednesday night, President Jacob Zuma was concerned enough to cancel his planned trip out of the country for a summit.
The recording above was written in 1984 by Jerry Dammers and intended as protest song, calling for Mandela’s release from prison, yet it was remarkably celebratory despite the dead serious nature of its message.
When sung in front of a big crowd, with the crowd singing along, as it was 23 years ago on Friday, June 29, 1990, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when Nelson Mandela came to LA five months after his release from nearly three decades in prison, and stood quietly on the specially erected stage, the effect was hypnotic. Incantatory.