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Nelson Mandela's Musical Influence

Hesta Prynn A.jpgIn this weekly column, MC/DJ Hesta Prynn pairs pop culture stories with an original playlist.

To celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, who died earlier this week at the age of 95, this week's Five n Five highlights just a few of his many words of wisdom and pairs them with songs inspired by the man himself. If you want to enjoy a great half hour of South African music this playlist is for you. Rest in peace, Madiba. 

1. Quote:

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." (1995)
Song: "Asimbonanga (Mandela)" by Johnny Clegg

This quote is from Mandela's book Long Walk to Freedom. The title of this song translates to "we have not seen him" and addresses Mandela's 26 years as a political prisoner.  legg had musicians of different races perform this protest hit together, creating controversy in Apartheid South Africa. 

2. Quote:

"Difficulties break some men but make others." (1975)

Song: "Free Nelson Mandela" by The Special A.K.A.

This quote is from a letter Mandela wrote to his wife from prison. The song was written in 1984 -- the 21st year of Mandela's imprisonment -- performed by The Special A.K.A., an offshoot of the Specials, and produced by Elvis Costello.  Largely unbeknown to Mandela, his continued imprisonment led to world wide pressure for his release and many countries began implementing sanctions on Apartheid Africa in the mid-80s.

3. Quote:

"Social equality is the only basis of human happiness."  (1970)

Song: Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) by Hugh Masekela

This quote is also from a letter Mandela wrote.  These simple, timeless words are often used to highlight similar struggles across the world today -- including the fight for marriage equality and LGBT rights in America. 
4. Quote:

"It always seems impossible until it's done."

Song: "Black President" by Brenda Fassie

Written at the tipping-point, one year before Mandela's release from prison, this song celebrates the future of South Africa.  I always wished Jay-Z sampled this one for "My President is Black" -- it's itching for a re-release.

5. Quote:

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." (1995)

Song: "Gimme Hope Jo'anna" by Eddy Grant

Another great quote from Long Walk to Freedom. Guyanese singer Eddy Grant, most famous for the 80s hit "Electric Avenue," says that this song was the "anthem of the Apartheid movement." Jo'anna is a reference to Johannesburg. 

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