On the occasion of Nelson Mandel’s 100th birtday, I am re-posting this, first published on the blog in 2013, following Mandela’s death:
Abdullah Ibrahim’s song ‘Mannenberg is Where It’s Happening‘, released in 1974, is often called South Africa’s “unofficial national anthem” and “the theme tune of the anti-apartheid movement”.
‘Mannenberg’ was an instant hit. However, “the idea that ‘Mannenberg’ the best-seller would someday metamorphose into ‘Mannenberg’ the struggle anthem would have surprised anyone who heard it in 1974. Its struggle credentials are by no means obvious. It is a song with few words, a lilting melody, and a gentle, hypnotic groove. There is, seemingly, nothing angry about it, nothing that would inspire people to stand up to the teargas, whips, and bullets of the apartheid state. And, yet, it did just that.”*
The video shows Abdullah Ibrahim, inter alia, in Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island.
* Mason, John Edwin: Mannenberg: Notes on the Making of an Icon and Anthem, African Studies Quarterly, Volume 9 (2007) 25.