The Big Read: Nelson Mandela: a living legend
Friday, July 25, 2008
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 18 July 1918, is a former President of South Africa, the first to be elected in fully representative democratic elections. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and leader of the African National Congress and its armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. He spent 27 years in prison, much of it on Robben Island, on convictions for crimes that included sabotage committed while he spearheaded the struggle against apartheid.
Among opponents of apartheid in South Africa and internationally, he became a symbol of freedom and equality, while the apartheid government and nations sympathetic to it condemned him and the ANC as communists and terrorists.
Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, his switch to a policy of reconciliation and negotiation helped lead the transition to multi-racial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, he has been widely praised, even by former opponents.
Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is currently a celebrated elder statesman who continues to voice his opinion on topical issues. In South Africa he is often known as Madiba, an honorary title adopted by elders of Mandela's clan. The title has come to be synonymous with Nelson Mandela.
Mandela has frequently credited Mahatma Gandhi for being a major source of inspiration in his life, both for the philosophy of non-violence and for facing adversity with dignity.
Birth and lineage
Mandela belongs to a cadet branch of the Thembu dynasty which (nominally) reigns in the Transkeian Territories of the Union of South Africa's Cape Province. He was born in the small village of Mvezo in the district of Umtata, the Transkei capital. His great-grandfather was Ngubengcuka (died 1832), the Inkosi Enkhulu or King of the Thembu people, who were eventually subjected to British colonial rule.
One of the king's sons, named Mandela, became Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. However, being only the Inkosi's child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan (the so-called "Left-Hand House"), the descendants of his branch of the royal family were not eligible to succeed to the Thembu throne.
His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa (1880–1928), was nonetheless designated chief of the town of Mvezo. Upon alienating the colonial authorities, however, he was deprived of his position, and moved his family to Qunu. Gadla remained, however, a member of the Inkosi's Privy Council, and was instrumental in the ascension to the Thembu throne of Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who would later return this favour by informally adopting Mandela upon Gadla's death.
Mandela's father had four wives, with whom he fathered a total of thirteen children (four boys and nine girls). Mandela was born to Gadla's third wife ('third' by a complex royal ranking system), Nosekeni Fanny, daughter of Nkedama of the Mpemvu Xhosa clan, the dynastic Right Hand House, in whose umzi or homestead Mandela spent much of his childhood. His given name Rolihlahla means "to pull a branch of a tree", or more colloquially, "troublemaker"
At seven years of age, Rolihlahla Mandela became the first member of his family to attend a school, where he was given the name "Nelson", after the Admiral Horatio Nelson of the Royal Navy, by a Methodist teacher who found his native name difficult to pronounce.[His father died of tuberculosis when Rolihlahla was nine, and the Regent, Jongintaba, became his guardian. Mandela attended a Wesleyan mission school next door to the palace of the Regent. Following Thembu custom, he was initiated at age sixteen, and attended Clarkebury Boarding Institute.
He completed his Junior Certificate in two years, instead of the usual three. Destined to inherit his father's position as a privy councillor, in 1937 Mandela moved to Healdtown, the Wesleyan college in Fort Beaufort which most Thembu royalty attended. Aged nineteen, he took an interest in boxing and running.
After matriculating, he started to study for a B.A. at the Fort Hare University, where he met Oliver Tambo, and the two became lifelong friends and colleagues. He also became close friends with his kinsman, Kaiser ("K.D.")
Matanzima who, however, as royal scion of the Thembu Right Hand House, was destined for the throne of Transkei, a role that later led him to embrace Bantustan policies which made him and Mandela political enemies. At the end of Nelson's first year, he became involved in a boycott by the Students' Representative Council against the university policies, and was asked to leave Fort Hare.
Later, while imprisoned, Mandela studied for a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London External Programme (see below).
Move to Johannesburg
Shortly after leaving Fort Hare, Jongintaba announced to Mandela and Justice (the Regent's own son and heir to the throne) that he had arranged marriages for both of them.
Both young men were displeased by this and rather than marry, they elected to flee the comforts of the Regent's estate to go to Johannesburg. Upon his arrival, Mandela initially found employment as a guard at a mine. However, this was quickly terminated after the employer learned that Mandela was the Regent's runaway adopted son. He later started work as an articled clerk at a law firm thanks to connections with his friend and mentor, realtor Walter Sisulu.
While working there, he completed his B.A. degree at the University of South Africa via correspondence, after which he started with his law studies at the University of Witwatersrand, where he first befriended fellow students and future anti-apartheid political activists Joe Slovo, Harry Schwarz and Ruth First. During this time Mandela lived in Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg.
After the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party with its apartheid policy of racial segregation, Mandela was prominent in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People, whose adoption of the Freedom Charter provided the fundamental program of the anti-apartheid cause.
During this time, Mandela and fellow lawyer Oliver Tambo operated the law firm of Mandela and Tambo, providing free or low-cost legal counsel to many blacks who would otherwise have been without representation.
Mandela's approach was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired him and succeeding generations of South African anti-apartheid activists. Indeed, Mandela took part in the 29 January – 30 January 2007 conference in New Delhi which marked the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's introduction of satyagraha in South Africa.
Initially committed to non-violent mass struggle, Mandela was arrested with 150 others on 5 December 1956 and charged with treason. The marathon Treason Trial of 1956–61 followed, and all were acquitted. From 1952–59 the ANC experienced disruption as a new class of Black activists (Africanists) emerged in the townships demanding more drastic steps against the National Party regime.
The ANC leadership of Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu felt not only that events were moving too fast, but also that their leadership was challenged. They consequently bolstered their position by alliances with small White, Coloured and Indian political parties in an attempt to appear to have a wider appeal than the Africanists.
The 1955 Freedom Charter Kliptown Conference was ridiculed by the Africanists for allowing the 100,000-strong ANC to be relegated to a single vote in a Congress alliance, in which four secretaries-general of the five participating parties were members of the secretly reconstituted South African Communist Party (SACP), strongly adhering to the Moscow line.
In 1959 the ANC lost its most militant support when most of the Africanists, with financial support from Ghana and significant political support from the Transvaal-based Basotho, broke away to form the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) under Robert Sobukwe and Potlako Leballo.
In 1961, Mandela became the leader of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (translated as Spear of the Nation, also abbreviated as MK), which he co-founded. He coordinated a sabotage campaign against military and government targets, and made plans for a possible guerrilla war if sabotage failed to end apartheid. Mandela also raised funds for MK abroad, and arranged for paramilitary training, visiting various African governments.
Fellow ANC member Wolfie Kadesh describes the bombing campaign led by Mandela: "When we knew that we going to start on December 16, 1961, to blast the symbolic places of apartheid, like pass offices, native magistrates courts, and things like that ... post offices and ... the government offices. But we were to do it in such a way that nobody would be hurt, nobody would get killed."
Mandela said of Wolfie: "His knowledge of warfare and his first hand battle experience were extremely helpful to me."
Mandela explains the move to embark on armed struggle as a last resort, when increasing repression and violence from the state convinced him that many years of non-violent protest against apartheid had achieved nothing and could not succeed.
A few decades later, MK did wage a guerrilla war against the regime, especially during the 1980s, in which many civilians were killed. Mandela later admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights, and has sharply criticised attempts by parts of his party to remove statements supporting this fact from the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Up until July 2008, Mandela and ANC party members were barred from entering the United States —except the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan— without a special waiver from the US Secretary of State, due to their designation as terrorists by the former South African apartheid regime.
Arrest and Rivonia trial
On 5 August 1962 Mandela was arrested after living on the run for seventeen months, and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. The arrest was made possible because the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tipped off the security police as to Mandela's whereabouts and disguise.
Three days later, the charges of leading workers to strike in 1961 and leaving the country illegally were read to him during a court appearance. On 25 October 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison. Two years later on 11 June 1964, a verdict had been reached concerning his previous engagement in the African National Congress (ANC).
While Mandela was imprisoned, police arrested prominent ANC leaders on 11 July 1963, at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. Mandela was brought in, and at the Rivonia Trial, they were charged by the chief prosecutor Dr. Percy Yutar with the capital crimes of sabotage (which Mandela admitted) and crimes which were equivalent to treason, but easier for the government to prove.
The second charge accused the defendants of plotting a foreign invasion of South Africa, which Mandela denied.
In his statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the trial on 20 April 1964 at Pretoria Supreme Court, Mandela laid out the clarity of reasoning in the ANC's choice to use violence as a tactic. His statement revealed how the ANC had used peaceful means to resist apartheid for years until the Sharpeville Massacre.
That event coupled with the referendum establishing the Republic of South Africa and the declaration of a state of emergency along with the banning of the ANC made it clear that their only choice was to resist through acts of sabotage. Doing otherwise would have been tantamount to unconditional surrender.
Mandela went on to explain how they developed the Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe on 16 December 1961 intent on exposing the failure of the National Party's policies after the economy would be threatened by foreigners' unwillingness to risk investing in the country. He closed his statement with these words:
‘‘During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’’
Bram Fischer, Vernon Berrange, Harry Schwarz, Joel Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson and George Bizos were part of the defence team that represented the accused. Harold Hanson was brought in at the end of the case to plead mitigation.
All except Rusty Bernstein were found guilty, but they escaped the gallows and were sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. Charges included involvement in planning armed action, in particular four charges of sabotage, which Mandela admitted to, and a conspiracy to help other countries invade South Africa, which Mandela denied.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison. On the island, he and others performed hard labour in a lime quarry. Prison conditions were very basic.
Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges. Mandela describes how, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification) he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months. Letters, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors.
Whilst in prison Mandela undertook study with the University of London by correspondence through its External Programme and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was subsequently nominated for the position of Chancellor of the University of London in the 1981 election, but lost to Princess Anne.
In his 1981 memoir Inside BOSS secret agent Gordon Winter describes his involvement in a plot to rescue Mandela from prison in 1969: this plot was infiltrated by Winter on behalf of South African intelligence, who wanted Mandela to escape so they could shoot him during recapture. The plot was foiled by British Intelligence.
In March 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, along with other senior ANC leaders Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Raymond Mhlaba. It was speculated that this was to remove the influence of these senior leaders on the new generation of young black activists imprisoned on Robben Island, the so-called "Mandela University". However, National Party minister Kobie Coetsee says that the move was to enable discreet contact between them and the South African government.
In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela conditional release in return for renouncing armed struggle. Coetzee and other ministers had advised Botha against this, saying that Mandela would never commit his organisation to giving up the armed struggle in exchange for personal freedom.
Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying "What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts."
The first meeting between Mandela and the National Party government came in November 1985 when Kobie Coetsee met Mandela in Volks Hospital in Cape Town where Mandela was being treated for prostate surgery. Over the next four years, a series of tentative meetings took place, laying the groundwork for further contact and future negotiations, but little real progress was made.
Throughout Mandela's imprisonment, local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him, under the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela! In 1989, South Africa reached a crossroads when Botha suffered a stroke and was replaced as president by Frederik Willem de Klerk. De Klerk announced Mandela's release in February 1990.
On 2 February 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on 11 February 1990. The event was broadcast live all over the world.
On the day of his release, Mandela made a speech to the nation. He declared his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the country's white minority, but made it clear that the ANC's armed struggle was not yet over:
‘‘Our resort to the armed struggle in 1960 with the formation of the military wing of the ANC (Umkhonto we Sizwe) was a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid. The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist
We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement would be created soon, so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle.’’
He also said his main focus was to bring peace to the black majority and give them the right to vote in both national and local elections.
Following his release from prison, Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC and, between 1990 and 1994, led the party in the multi-party negotiations that led to the country's first multi-racial elections.
In 1991, the ANC held its first national conference in South Africa after its unbanning, electing Mandela as President of the organisation. His old friend and colleague Oliver Tambo, who had led the organisation in exile during Mandela's imprisonment, became National Chairperson.
Mandela's leadership through the negotiations, as well as his relationship with President F.W. de Klerk, was recognised when they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. However, the relationship was sometimes strained, particularly so in a sharp exchange in 1991 when he furiously referred to De Klerk as the head of "an illegitimate, discredited, minority regime".
The talks broke down following the Boipatong massacre in June 1992 when Mandela took the ANC out of the negotiations, accusing De Klerk's government of complicity in the killings. However, talks resumed following the Bisho massacre in September 1992, when the spectre of violent confrontation made it clear that negotiations were the only way forward.
Following the assassination of senior ANC leader Chris Hani in April 1993, there were renewed fears that the country would erupt in violence. Mandela addressed the nation appealing for calm, in a speech regarded as 'presidential' even though he was not yet president of the country at that time:
‘‘Tonight I am reaching out to every single South African, black and white, from the very depths of my being. A white man, full of prejudice and hate, came to our country and committed a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster. A white woman, of Afrikaner origin, risked her life so that we may know, and bring to justice, this assassin. The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world. ...Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for – the freedom of all of us.’’
While some riots did follow the assassination, the negotiators were galvanised into action, and soon agreed that democratic elections should take place on 27 April 1994, just over a year after Hani's assassination.
Presidency of South Africa
South Africa's first multi-racial elections in which full enfranchisement was granted were held on 27 April 1994.
The ANC won 62% of the votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as the country's first black President, with the National Party's de Klerk as his first deputy and Thabo Mbeki as the second in the Government of National Unity.
As President from May 1994 until June 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.
Mandela encouraged black South Africans to get behind the previously hated Springboks (the South African national rugby team) as South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup. After the Springboks won an epic final over New Zealand, Mandela, wearing a Springbok shirt, presented the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar, an Afrikaner. This was widely seen as a major step in the reconciliation of white and black South Africans.
After assuming the presidency, one of Mandela's trademarks was his use of Batik shirts, known as "Madiba shirts", even on formal occasions.
President Mandela took a particular interest in helping to resolve the long-running dispute between Gaddafi's Libya, on the one hand, and the United States and Britain on the other, over bringing to trial the two Libyans who were indicted in November 1991 and accused of sabotaging Pan Am Flight 103, which crashed at the Scottish town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, with the loss of 270 lives.
As early as 1992, Mandela informally approached President George Bush with a proposal to have the two indicted Libyans tried in a third country. Bush reacted favourably to the proposal, as did President Mitterrand of France and King Juan Carlos of Spain. In November 1994 – six months after his election as president – Mandela formally proposed that South Africa should be the venue for the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial.
However, British Prime Minister, John Major, flatly rejected the idea saying the British government did not have confidence in foreign courts. A further three years elapsed until Mandela's offer was repeated to Major's successor, Tony Blair, when the president visited London in July 1997. Later the same year, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Edinburgh in October 1997, Mandela warned:
‘‘No one nation should be complainant, prosecutor and judge.’’
A compromise solution was then agreed for a trial to be held at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, governed by Scots law, and President Mandela began negotiations with Colonel Gaddafi for the handover of the two accused (Megrahi and Fhimah) in April 1999. At the end of their nine-month trial, the verdict was announced on 31 January 2001. Fhimah was acquitted but Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to 27 years in a Scottish jail. Megrahi's initial appeal was turned down in March 2002, and former president Mandela went to visit him in Barlinnie prison on 10 June 2002.
'Megrahi is all alone', Mandela told a packed press conference in the prison's visitors room. 'He has nobody he can talk to. It is psychological persecution that a man must stay for the length of his long sentence all alone. It would be fair if he were transferred to a Muslim country — and there are Muslim countries which are trusted by the West.
It will make it easier for his family to visit him if he is in a place like the kingdom of Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt.'
Megrahi was subsequently moved to Greenock jail and is no longer in solitary confinement. On 28 June 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission concluded its three-year review of Megrahi's conviction and, believing that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, referred the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal for a second appeal.
Marriage and family
Mandela has been married three times, has fathered six children, has twenty grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren. His grandson is Chief Mandla Mandela.
Mandela's first marriage was to Evelyn Ntoko Mase who, like Mandela, was also from what later became the Transkei area of South Africa, although they actually met in Johannesburg.
The couple had two sons, Madiba Thembekile (Thembi) (born 1946) and Makgatho Lewanika (born 1950), and two daughters, both named Makaziwe (known as Maki; born 1947 and 1953). Their first daughter died aged nine months, and they named their second daughter in her honour.
The couple broke up in 1957 after 13 years, divorcing under the multiple strains of his constant absences, devotion to revolutionary agitation, and the fact she was a Jehovah's Witness, a religion which requires political neutrality.
Thembi was killed in a car crash in 1969 at the age of 25, while Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. All their children were educated at the Waterford Kamhlaba.
Evelyn Mase died in 2004. Second marriage
Mandela's second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also came from the Transkei area, although they, too, met in Johannesburg, where she was the city's first black social worker. They had two daughters, Zenani (Zeni), born 4 February 1958, and Zindziswa (Zindzi), born 1960. Later, Winnie would be deeply torn by family discord which mirrored the country's political strife; while her husband was serving a life sentence on the Robben Island prison, her father became the agriculture minister in the Transkei.
The marriage ended in separation (April 1992) and divorce (March 1996), fuelled by political estrangement.
Mandela still languished in prison when his daughter Zenani was married to Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini in 1973, elder brother of King Mswati III of Swaziland.
As a member by marriage of a reigning foreign dynasty, she was able to visit her father during his South African imprisonment while other family members were denied access. The Dlamini couple live and run a business in Boston. One of their sons, Prince Cedza Dlamini (born 1976), educated in the United States, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps as an international advocate for human rights and humanitarian aid.
Thumbumuzi and Mswati's sister, Princess Mantfombi Dlamini, is the chief consort to King Goodwill Zwelithini of KwaZulu-Natal, who "reigns but does not rule" over South Africa's largest ethnic group under the auspices of South Africa's government. One of Queen Mantfombi's sons is expected to eventually succeed Goodwill as monarch of the Zulus, whose Inkatha Party leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was one of the political rivals of Mandela, before and during his presidency.
Mandela remarried, once again, in 1998 on his 80th birthday, to Graça Machel née Simbine, widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and ANC ally who was killed in an air crash 12 years earlier.
The wedding followed months of international negotiations to set the unprecedented bride-price to be remitted to Machel's clan. Said negotiations were conducted on Mandela's behalf by his traditional sovereign, King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo, born 1964.
Ironically, it was this paramount chief's grandfather, the Regent Jongintaba, whose selection of a bride for him prompted Mandela to flee to Johannesburg as a young man.
Mandela still maintains a home at Qunu in the realm of his royal nephew (second cousin thrice-removed in Western reckoning), whose university expenses he defrayed and whose privy councillor he remains.
Mandela became the oldest elected President of South Africa when he took office at the age of 77 in 1994. He decided not to stand for a second term as President, and instead retired in 1999, to be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki.
Iraq invasion views
In 2003 Mandela criticised the foreign policy of the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush in a number of speeches. Criticising the lack of UN involvement in the decision to begin the War in Iraq, he said, "It is a tragedy, what is happening, what Bush is doing. But Bush is now undermining the United Nations."
Mandela stated he would support action against Iraq only if it is ordered by the UN. Mandela also insinuated that Bush may have been motivated by racism in not following the UN and its secretary-general Kofi Annan on the issue of the war. "Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white".
He urged the people of the U.S. to join massive protests against Bush and called on world leaders, especially those with vetoes in the UN Security Council, to oppose him. "What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."
He attacked the United States for its record on human rights and for dropping atomic bombs on Japan during World War II. "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care."
As a member of the United States House of Representatives in 1986, Dick Cheney had voted against a congressional resolution calling for Mandela's release from prison. In 2002, Mandela called Cheney a "dinosaur."
Many artists have dedicated songs to Mandela. One of the most popular was from the The Specials who recorded the song Nelson Mandela in 1983. Stevie Wonder dedicated his 1985 Oscar for the song I Just Called to Say I Love You to Mandela, resulting in his music being banned by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. In 1985, Youssou N'Dour's album Nelson Mandela was the Senegalese artist's first United States release.
In 1988, the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at London's Wembley Stadium was a focal point of the anti-apartheid movement, with many musicians voicing their support for Mandela. Jerry Dammers, the author of Nelson Mandela, was one of the organisers.
Simple Minds recorded the song Mandela Day for the concert, Santana recorded the instrumental Mandela, and Tracy Chapman performed Freedom Now, dedicated to Mandela and released on her album Crossroads. Salif Keita from Mali, who played at the concert, later visited South Africa and in 1995 recorded the song Mandela on his album Folon.
In South Africa, Asimbonanga (Mandela) (we have not seen him) became one of Johnny Clegg's most famous songs, appearing on
his Third World Child album in 1987.
Hugh Masekela, in exile in the UK, sang Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. Brenda Fassie's 1989 song Black President, a tribute to Mandela, was hugely popular even though it was banned in South Africa.
In 1990, Hong Kong Cantopop band Beyond released a popular Cantonese song, "Days of Glory". The anti-apartheid song featured lyrics referring to Mandela's heroic struggle for racial equality.
In 2003, Mandela lent his weight to the 46664 campaign against AIDS, named after his prison number. Many prominent musicians performed in concerts as part of this campaign.
A summary of Mandela's life story is featured in the 2006 music video If Everyone Cared by Nickelback.
Raffi's song "Turn this world around" is based on a speech given by Mandela where he explained the world needs to be "turned around, for the children".
A tribute concert for Mandela's 90th birthday took place in Hyde Park, London on 27 June 2008.