The strains of the trumpets in this song need no introduction.
This was a song, with a name, my generation grew up with. Twenty one years in captivity. This was a country that we knew the name of because we had to check we didn’t buy their fruit, or support musicians that played there. Shoes too small to fit his feet. This was a regime that we may not have understood but one which our parents made damn sure we knew about. His body abused, but his mind still free. This was a man whose wife we became used to seeing making powerful speeches on our TVs. Are you so blind that you cannot see? This was a man that made us all re-evaluate the preconceptions we had of South Africa and its people; a man that made it possible for a tidal wave of people to cast their first ever vote reminding us in the UK of the rights we had taken for granted; a man that became a symbol for peace, forgiveness and humility. Free Nelson Mandela.
I remember thinking how much I loved this song as a child. It was probably my first political song, and my parents did explain the horrors of apartheid to me, so I understood the words of this song - before he was released. The students I come across today, although knowing the name of Mandela, don't really understand what segregation meant and how it worked in the reality of each day. And maybe that's a good thing.
Generations to come must understand the role they have to play in continuing the struggles he and his supporters began. They have to understand the strength it will take to forgive the hardships they have endured. They have to understand that he was only at the start of a journey that will pass down for future peoples. He gave freedom to millions. And now, he really knows what it is like to be free.
God Bless Nelson Mandela.