Remarkable People

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Nelson Mandela 8 Acclaim and Musical Tributes.

According to Newsweek, "Mandela rightly occupies a unique place in the South African imagination. He's the national liberator, the saviour, its Washington and Lincoln rolled into one" In 2009 the UN General Assembly announced that Mandela's birthday (18 July) is to be known as "Mandela Day" to mark his contribution to world freedom.

Mandela has received many South African, foreign and international honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, the Order of Merit from, and creation as a Baliff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John by Queen Elizabeth II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George Bush. In July 2004 Johannesburg bestowed its highest honour on Mandela, granting him freedom of the city at a ceremony in Orlando, Soweto.

As an example of his popular foreign acclaim, during his tour of Canada in 1998 45,000 schoolchildren greeted him at a speaking engagement in Toronto. In 2001 he was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. While in Canada, he was also one of few foreigners to receive the Companion of the Order of Canada.

In 1990 he received the Bharat Ratna Award from India and the last Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union.  In 1992 he was awarded the Atatürk Peace Award by Turkey. At the time he refused the award citing human rights violations by Turkey but accepted the award in 1999. In 1992 he received the Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan’s highest civil service award.
Many have dedicated songs to Mandela. One of the most popular was from The Specials who recorded the song "Free 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 SABC. In 1985, Youssou N'Dour's album Nelson Mandela was the Senegalese artist's first US release.

In 1988 the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley Stadium was a focal point of the anti-apartheid movement, with many musicians voicing support for Mandela.  For the concert, Simple Minds recorded the song "Mandela Day," Santana recorded the instrumental "Mandela"and Tracy Chapman performed "Freedom Now". Salif Keita from Mali later visited South Africa and in 1995 recorded the song "Mandela" on his album Folon. Whitney Houston performed and dedicated the gospel song "He I Believe".

In South Africa, "Asimbonanga (Mandela)" ("We Have Not Seen Him") became one of Johnny Clegg's most famous songs. Hugh Masekela sang "Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)" in 1987. Brenda Fassie's 1989 song "Black President" was hugely popular. Nigerian reggae musician Majek Fashek released the single "Free Mandela" in 1992.

In 1990, Hong Kong the rock band Beyond released a popular Cantonese song, "Days of Glory". The anti-apartheid song featured lyrics referring to Mandela's struggle. The group Ladysmith Black Mambazo accompanied Mandela to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway in 1993 and performed for his inauguration in 1994. 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". Raffi's song "Turn This World Around" is based on a speech by Mandela in which he explained that the world needs to be "turned around, for the children". A tribute concert for Mandela's 90th birthday took place in Hyde Park, London in June 2008.

Ampie du Preez and cricketer AB de Villiers wrote a song called "Madibaland" in honor of Mandela. It is featured as the 4th and 14th tracks on their album, "Maak Jou Drome Waar".

In April 2001 Nelson Mandela Garden in Leeds was opened and Mandela was awarded freedom of the city and a commemorative 'golden owl' (the heraldric symbol of Leeds). In a speech outside Leeds Civic Hall, Mandela mistakenly thanked “the people of Liverpool for their generosity”. In March 2004 Sandton Square in Johannesburg was renamed Nelson Mandela Square and a 6m statue was installed in his honour.

On 29 August 2007, a statue of Mandela was unveiled in Parliament Square, London by Richard Attenborough, Ken Livingstone, Wendy Woods, and Gordon Brown. The campaign to erect the statue was started in 2000 by Donald Woods, an exiled South African journalist. Mandela stated that it represented not just him, but all those who resisted oppression, especially in South Africa. He added: "The history of the struggle in South Africa is rich with the stories of heroes and heroines, some of them leaders, some of them followers. All of them deserve to be remembered." An earlier statue resides on the South Bank of the Thames.

In August 2008 a statue of Mandela was unveiled at Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre between Paarl and Franshhoek near Cape Town. Formerly known as Victor Verster, the prison is where Mandela spent his last years in jail and where he and other ANC stalwarts negotiated the terms of their release and the nature of the new South Africa. It stands where Mandela took his first steps as a free man.

After 1989's Loma Prieta Earthquake demolished the Cypress Street Viaduct portion of the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland, California, the city renamed the street-level boulevard Mandela Parkway in his honour.
In Leicester, England there is a Nelson Mandela Park with the slogan "South Africa belongs to all those who live there, Black and White".

The film Mandela and De Klerk told the story of Mandela's release from prison. Goodbye Bafana, a film that focuses on Mandela's life, chronicled Mandela's relationship with prison guard James Gregory and had its world premiere at the Berlin film festival in February 2007

On The Cosby Show Cliff and Claire Huxtable's grandchildren were named Nelson and Winnie in honour of Mandela and his wife Winnie.

In the final scene of the movie Malcolm X, Mandela – recently released after 27 years of political imprisonment – appears as a schoolteacher in a Soweto classroom. He recites a portion of one of Malcolm X's most famous speeches, including the following sentence: "We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, on this day, which we intend to bring into existence..." The famous final phrase of that sentence is "by any means necessary." Mandela informed director Spike Lee that he could not utter the phrase on camera because the government might use it against him. Lee obliged and the final seconds of the film feature footage of Malcolm X delivering the phrase.

Mandela and Springbok captain François Pienaar are the focus of a 2008 book by John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation. It spotlights the role of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in post-apartheid South Africa. Carlin sold the film rights to Morgan Freeman. The film version, entitled Invictus, was directed by Clint Eastwood, and featured Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Pienaar.

In the BBC television drama Mrs Mandela, Nelson Mandela was portrayed by David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo played his former wife Winnie Mandela.

Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, which he started while still in prison, was published in 1994. Mandela did not reveal anything about the alleged complicity of F. W. de Klerk or the role of his ex-wife Winnie Mandela in the violence of the eighties and nineties. However, he later co-operated with journalist Anthony Sampson who discussed those issues in “Mandela: The Authorized Biography”. Another detail that was omitted was the allegedly fraudulent book, Goodbye Bafana. Its author James Gregory claimed to have been Mandela's confidant in prison and published details of his family affairs. Sampson maintains that Mandela did not know Gregory well. However Gregory censored letters sent to Mandela and thus discovered the details of his personal life. Sampson also averred that other warders suspected Gregory of spying for the government and that Mandela considered suing Gregory.

Mandela Day on 18 July is an annual international day adopted by the United Nations. Individuals, communities and organisations are asked to donate 67 minutes to do something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Nelson Mandela gave to the struggle for social justice.

In 2004, zoologists Brent Hendrixson and Jason Bond named a species of trapdoor spider Stasimopus mandelai in honour of Nelson Mandela, one of the great moral leaders of our time.

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Last update: 2014-03-30 20:29
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.3

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