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Nelson Mandela: A Life In Music

Our Nelson Mandela music playlist includes music by Mandela's favourite artists, J.P. Mohapeloa, Makeba and Tchaikovsky plus songs inspired by anti-Apartheid struggle


Nelson Mandela inspired countless musical tributes. This playlist includes tracks by some of Mandela's favourite artists; songs composed with Mandela in mind as a freedom fighter and as a President; struggle songs; and a few that for us, capture the global  fight against injustice. The range of artists represented — from Abdullah Ibrahim to Peter Tosh to Miriam Makeba to Tchaikovsky – is a testament to Mandela's importance as a radical politician and to the solidarity the struggle inspired in people across the world.

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1. Miriam Makeba – "Khawuleza"

When Miriam Makeba died in 2008 Nelson Mandela paid the singer and activist a poignant tribute calling her "the mother of our struggle" and "South Africa's First Lady of song." Performing here in Sweden in 1966, Makeba's "Khawuleza" title translates as "come quickly" — a reminder of the call children made to their mothers as police arrived to terrorize the townships.

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2. The Specials - "Free Nelson Mandela"

In March 1984, Mandela wrote on his desk calendar in which he kept notes from inside his Robben Island cell: "Madiba records sell well. Record calling for the release of NM has made big impression on pop charts after only one week. 'Free NM' by the Specials - a multi-racial group - is no.4 on Capitol Radio charts & no. 65 on the national charts". Madiba was right, the song written by Jeffrey Dammers, who became aware of Mandela during a 1983 anti-apartheid concert, continued to do well on charts internationally.

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3. J.P. Mohapeloa

When Zeni Mandela wrote lyrics from an Elvis song on the back of a letter she sent her father in prison, he replied with a list of musicians he thought she should be listening to. Among them was Lesotho-born folk composer J.P. Mohapeloa.

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4. Paul Robeson "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho"

Mandela also recommended that his daughter listen to African American renaissance man — actor, musician, Civil Rights activist — Paul Robeson. Old time spiritual "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" is a reminder of the inequity of power which defined Struggle.

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Nelson Freitas in "Goofy." Image courtesy of the artist.

The 16 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Lady Donli, Mdou Moctar, Boddhi Satva x Nelson Freitas, Shirazee x Saint Jhn, YoungstaCPT, Naira Marley and more

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Shirazee. Photo: Tiara Marei. Courtesy of the artist.

Get Into Shirazee & Saint Jhn's Highly-Addictive 'Juju'

The new music video follows Shirazee and Saint Jhn to New Orleans.

Shirazee is back with his latest single "Juju."

The new song sees the Benin-born singer-songwriter linking up with none-other-than Saint Jhn for a highly-addictive tune built on afro-fusion beat work. The striking new music video for "Juju," which was directed by Tiara Marei, follows Shirazee and Saint Jhn to New Orleans, Louisiana.

"This one is special to me 'cause the song was recorded at a time I needed to break a love-spell that I felt was put on me by a serious crush of mine [laughs]," Shirazee tells OkayAfrica. "Shooting this video in New Orleans, a city with historical ties to my Benin, was such a privilege and does so much justice to the song and theme.

"[I'm] looking forward to releasing new music this year and the first of two EPs called LOST is on the way and it's exciting," he adds.

For more on him, revisit our interview with Shirazee on his journey, taking risks and going independent. As you remember, Saint Jhn featured on Beyoncé and Wizkid's "Brown Skin Girl," one of our favorite songs last year.

Get into Shirazee and Saint Jhn's "Juju" below.

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K.O Releases ‘Killa Combo’ Featuring Zingah, Loki, Tellaman and Mariechan

Listen to the first single released under K.O's new imprint Skhandaworld.

The last time we spoke to K.O., he revealed that one of his goals for the year is to launch Skhandaworld, a newly launched imprint founded by the South African emcee. The up-and-coming rapper Loki was a top priority as he is the first signee under the label.

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Twice As Tall World Tour. Flyer provided by Atlantic Records.

Burna Boy Announces 'Twice As Tall' World Tour Dates

The Nigerian star will be playing shows across North America and Europe this summer.

Burna Boy is hitting the road again.

Following the celebrated release of African Giant—which came with nominations at both the Grammys & BRIT Awards and a trophy for Best International Act at the BET Awards—the Nigerian star will be embarking on a long run of shows that will take him across North America and Europe.

The Twice As Tall World Tour will kick off in May in Atlanta, and will see Burna Boy playing concerts across the US, Canada, Norway, France, Portugal, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and more locations.

You can check out the full tour dates for Twice As Tall World Tour below and revisit Burna Boy's performance for Okay Acoustics.

Tickets are available now.

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