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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Favorite Song of the Day: Free Nelson Mandela

A lucky 13 years ago on May 10th, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first black president of South Africa. It was the culmination of a long international struggle against the racist system of Apartheid.

Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, was held as a political prisoner for 27 years. Rather than pursuing retribution, he stressed reconciliation during his presidency and became a much beloved world leader. South Africa still faces many challenges today, such as the AIDS crisis and stubborn inequality and poverty, but progress is made in steps and decades of oppression are difficult to overcome.

Ten years before Mandela took the oath of office, Jerry Dammers of The Special AKA (later The Specials) wrote a song to build public awareness about his plight. It's a great example of a protest song, and happily it's one that can now be sung in celebration of the victory achieved.

Free Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela
Free, Free, Free, Nelson Mandela
Free Nelson Mandela
Twenty-one years in captivity
His shoes too small to fit his feet
His body abused but his mind is still free
Are you so blind that you cannot see

I say Free Nelson Mandela
I'm begging you
Free Nelson Mandela

He pleaded the causes of the ANC
Only one man in a large army
Are you so blind that you cannot see
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear his plea

Free Nelson Mandela
I'm begging you
Free Nelson Mandela

Twenty-one years in captivity
Are you so blind that you cannot see
Are you so deaf that you cannot hear
Are you so dumb that you cannot speak

I say Free Nelson Mandela
I'm begging you
Oh free Nelson Mandela, free
Nelson Mandela I'm begging you begging you
Please free Nelson Mandela
free Nelson Mandela
I'm telling you, you've got to free Nelson Mandela
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