I heard this song for the first time on the radio earlier this year and was totally struck by it. It pushed me to dig into the meaning of the song and I found out that the song, Asimbonanga (Mandela) was written by South African musician, Johnny Clegg. One of many musical homages to Nelson Mandela, it was controversial as it was written and sung in support of Mandela while he was imprisoned.
In fact, Johnny Clegg formed the first integretated rock band in South Africa and was arrested and jailed himself for his collaboration with black musicians. Randy Lewis of the L.A. Times explains, "His elegiac song “Asimbonanga (Mandela),” from his 1987 “Third World Child” album with his band Savuka, mixed English verses with choruses sung in Zulu. It noted that Mandela was nowhere to be seen at that time and also name-checked political prisoners Steven Biko (the subject of Peter Gabriel’s 1980 song “Biko”) Victoria Mxenge and Neil Aggett."
Thankful today for the life and contributions of these social activist as well as the courage and grace God gave to Nelson Mandela. Truly inspired by this man's sacrifice and fight for equality and social justice.
This is a video of Johnny Clegg performing the song and honoring Nelson Mandela.
This is a video is of "Asimbonanga" as well as "Biko," a song written about Steven Biko, being performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir.