Celebrating #Mandiba II: Nigerian Musicians and Mandela’s Freedom

This tweet from Nze Sylva Ifedigbo, got me thinking:

And least the history Nigeria’s fight for the break of South Africa’s apartheid policy fades into oblivion, I curate below some Nigerian Musicians who sang for Mandela’s freedom.

1.  Fela Anikulapo Kuti  Beast of No Nation

In 1989, Fela and Egypt ’80 released the anti-apartheid Beasts of No Nation album that depicts on its cover U.S. President Ronald Reagan, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and South African Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha (Wikipedia).


2.  Majek Fashek Free Mandela

Majekodunmi Fasheke, popularly known as Majek Fashek, is a Nigerian reggae singer and guitarist  (Wikipedia).

3. Sony OkosunFire in Soweto

Sonny Okosun, “Fire in Soweto” (1978). Nelson Mandela had a direct connection to reggae music, even if he wasn’t able to hear its ascent while he was imprisoned. He had, however, met with one of the spiritual fathers of reggae music, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, in Ethiopia in 1962, the same year that Mandela began his incarceration. Reggae, born in the streets of Jamaica less than a decade later, took up Mandela’s cause while he was holed up in Robben Island prison. In addition to Eddy Grant’s “Gimme Hope, Jo’Anna,” Nigerian high life singer Sonny Okosun delivered his incendiary reggae jam “Fire in Soweto” in honor of South Africa’s plight (“Nelson Mandela and Music: 10 Essential Anti-Apartheid Songs”, Los Angeles Times ).

4. Onyeka OnwenuWinnie Mandela

…from the mid-eighties, to 1990 when Nigerian musicians tried to outdo one another in the composition and rendition of songs eulogising Mandela and calling for the unconditional and immediate release of Mr. Mandela from incarceration on Robben Island. Onyeka Onwenu it was, I think, who set the ball rolling with her Winnie Mandela – Yakubu Ibn Mohammed

I have only tried to place some Nigerian musicians – that I can presently recall – who stood by South Africa and Mandela during the dark nights of apartheid. This list is in no way exhaustive and I will be glad to add more – with your help of course.

Nonetheless, it is imperative to state that Nigeria’s and Nigerians input traversed all areas – writers, politicians, diplomacy.

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