Freedom Songs

Nelson Mandela made the front page of the London Herald on Monday, February 12, 1990-celebrating his freedom. Those Freedom songs must have helped! (4)

Similar to Nelson Mandela, music was an important aspect in South Africa. During Mandela’s time of imprisonment, many artists sang Freedom Songs dedicated to Mandela. This showed that people were in support of him and that he wasn’t alone in this fight for freedom. Freedom Songs had an overall significant role in South Africa’s liberation struggle – “the melodies, harmonies, chants and cries”. Freedom Songs lifted and encouraged the spirits of those who fought Apartheid, and have been widely known and appreciated by the masses of oppressed Africans during their years fighting for freedom. Therefore, Freedom Songs played a vital role in helping to win South Africa’s new democracy. (1)

Examples of Freedom Songs:



  • Miriam Makeba w/ Hugh Masekela- South Africa Freedom Song: Soweto Blues, sheds light on the lives of many South Africans under the Apartheid regime (2)


  • The Special, also know as Special AKA, in an English pop group from the late 70’s/ early 80’s. In 1984 they released a single called “Free Nelson Mandela.” During this time the world had been exposed to the horrors of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. There was a cry across the world to end it, as this shows, even in England, who started the racist policies in the country while it still ruled it. Around the world there were embargoes on South African products and many other harsh economic sanctions until the end of Apartheid. They lyrics of the song are very powerful stating: “Shoes too small to fit his feet and “His body abused but his mind is still free”. They refer to the physical abuse that Mandela received while he was in prison as a call to let him out. Also during the song they call …for the people to listen to the cause of the ANC, which was leading the fight against the regime in South Africa at the time. (3)


(1) “South African Freedom Songs.” World Music from cdRoots. cdRoots and FNI Multimedia, 2010. Web. 30 Nov 2011. <>.

(2) LASAGO. “Miriam Makeba with Hugh Masekela- South Africa freedom song – Youtube.” Youtube- Broadcast Yourself. Web. 23 May 2008. <>.

(3) “Special AKA – Free Nelson Mandela (TOTP) – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Web. 20 Nov. 2011. <>.

“Specials – Nelson Mandela Lyrics.” Lyrics, Song Lyrics Web. 20 Nov. 2011. <>.

David Buckley. “Specials, The.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 21 Nov. 2011 <>.

(4) “Nelson Mandela Freed”. World Gallery. Web. 2011. <>



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