Nelson Mandela’s story needs no retelling. At times, it would appear to be the stuff of legend, an African Aesop fable crafted to instruct present and future generations about the folly of oppression, the injustices of racial segregation, and, ultimately, the power of forgiveness and the emancipation of the soul.
But it is no legend. His story was real. All 95 years of it. In his landmark autobiography Long Walk To Freedom Mandela chronicled some of his life: his early childhood in South Africa, where he tasted the early fruits of the brutal colonial regime; his entrance into anti-Apartheid politics and his role in opposing the Apartheid government; and, eventually, his imprisonment on Robben Island after his treason conviction at the Rivonia Trial. On Robben Island, where he served the majority of his sentence, political prisoners were subjected to hard labour, inhuman confinement, and stripped of small dignities capable of poisoning any person’s heart or breaking their will to live. But not him. His confinement hardened his resolve, it steeled his desire to see an equal South Africa, and as it dragged on, his conviction itself became a prison sentence for the government which confined him.
Long Walk To Freedom is a most instructive piece of writing which provides a look into the mind and soul of one of the world’s most influential human beings.
This playlist is two things. Firstly, it is collection of songs which decry the injustices of oppressive regimes in the world, and, secondly, it voices the virtues of a man many have not met but who, nonetheless, continues to shape the world in which we live.
It is a walk with a shrewd politician, a convicted prisoner, an esteemed and celebrated luminary, and above all else, an ordinary man with a simple dream.
This playlist is a troupe of songs about a past which many hope never to be repeated, expressing the joy of the present, and the hope of the future.
DURATION: 1 hour 18 min (20 tracks)
MOOD: Triumphant, emancipated; new days, old wounds.
NOTABLE ARTISTS: Jewel (Spirit; This Way); Youssou N’Dour (Nelson Mandela; The Lion); The Roots (Phrenology; The Tipping Point); Johnny Clegg (Third World Child; Shadow Man); and, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Liph’ Iqiniso; Wenyukela).
Author’s note: The present is always a good time to practice the lessons of the past. This playlist attempts to that.