Simple Minds – Mandela Day

Simple Minds are best known for “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” a song they didn’t compose, but performed for the soundtrack to the 80s movie, “The Breakfast Club.” The song introduced them to a wider audience, with which they shared their socially conscious music.

Simple Minds performed at London’s Wembley Stadium, for 1988’s Mandela Day concert, debuting this song. Nelson Mandela, South African anti-apartheid activist, was 70 on this June 11 day. He was in prison, of course, and spent 27 years behind bars for his opposition to racial segregation, until 1990.

Apartheid in South Africa was the law of the land going back to 1948. It was officially abolished in 1990, but most consider 1994 to be the actual end year; this was when Mandela became President via a democratic election.

Singer Jim Kerr, in the liner notes to a greatest hits CD compilation, said, “Instead of singing about him in jail, I wanted to sing about freedom, meaning you can’t lock up his legend, his myths and his values.”

Other artists at this concert included George Michael, Sting, Al Green, Tracy Chapman, Bryan Adams, the Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston.

Apparently, politics were supposed to be kept out of the concert. Yet, muzzling such artists seems far fetched. Other “hangers on” included American politician Jesse Jackson, who tried to make a speech. No matter: Fox Television in the USA only aired “de-radicalized” portions of the show. After all, the concert was promoted by those in the media that decided to cover it as a very political statement just for happening: an aural attack on the South African government. Too, the anti-apartheid movement was the recipient of some bomb threats, but the show did go on.


4 thoughts on “Simple Minds – Mandela Day

  1. In this song Jerry Dammers of the Special A.K.A demands the release of the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela. He had been imprisoned by the South African government since 1964 on charges of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government. Unsurprisingly this song couldn’t be played freely in South Africa, however it helped install optimism within the black community there. Its success in Britain sparked an increasingly vocal campaign by the rock world to free Mandela, which culminated in the 1988 Mandela 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium in London. Prisoner no 46664 was finally released in February 1990 and became State President of South Africa in 1994.

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