Well, we all knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less gut-wrenching. He had been in and out of the hospital for months with numerous infections, but after the life he led and all of the adversities he overcame, I bet I’m not the only one who had a little secret part of his brain where the idea of an immortal Nelson Mandela took root.
The 1986 Anti-Apartheid march in New York City was the first real political event that my father and I attended together and it was a galvanizing moment not just for myself, but for tens of thousands of others. I had just graduated high school, bound for a liberal arts school in Massachusetts and in the mid-late 1980’s, you were hard-pressed to find a campus without a home-made shanty, without divestment protests and without Nelson Mandela’s face adoring dorm rooms across campus.
Also in the 80s, Ska was making one of its regular comebacks dubbed (pun intended) the 2 Tone sound, it was rife with political and integrationist feelings, hence the black and white imagery. One of the songs that helped raise the profile of Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid movement was “Free Nelson Mandela,” by The Special AKA:
Mandela was one for the ages. An inspiration for countless millions, even billions and someone who achieved the rarest of heights: Worldwide recognition for all the right reasons. We will never see the likes of him again.