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The story behind the Free Nelson Mandela song

'Free Nelson Mandela' writer Jerry Dammers reveals the story behind the song
Singer-songwriter and 'The Specials' founder Jerry Dammers has told The Westminster Hour how he came to write the 'Free Nelson Mandela' song linked with the campaign for Mandela to be released from prison. He told John Beesley: "In 1983 I met an old school friend in the street and he told me about a concert that was being put on at Alexandra Palace to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 65th birthday. I'd never heard of Nelson Mandela but I went along and there were the South African exile bands who lived in London playing and the anti-apartheid movement were involved and giving out leaflets. So that's where I learned about Mandela and I was already working on a song but I didn't have any lyrics and it was slightly African influenced so then I got the idea to make it a plea for Mandela's freedom."

'Raw emotion' as Winnie Mandela film airs in SA

Pumza Fihlani

BBC News, Johannesburg

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
AFP
The late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is pictured here in December 2017

A documentary detailing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's role in bringing down South Africa's apartheid government has many in South Africa raw with emotion.

Winnie, made by French director Pascale Lamche, was aired last night on satellite TV channel eNCA. It has been trending on social media, with many expressing heartbreak at how the "ANC (African National Congress) failed Mam Winnie".

It is a marked departure from the narrative which has dominated local and international media in the past, and even after Ms Madikizela-Mandela’s death on 2 April, of a power hungry, villainous woman.

A mourner with a stamp on her cheek featuring late South African anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,
AFP
Ms Madikizela-Mandela had strong support among black people in South Africa

The film shows a woman who was overlooked by history and betrayed by many she trusted. It includes exclusive interview footage of Ms Madikizela-Mandela speaking about key moments in her downfall.

She addresses the death of Stompei Seipei, a 14-year-old boy kidnapped by her bodyguards, whose subsequent killing she repeatedly denied any involvement in.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela also says that ANC leaders sold her out at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to neutralise her power, when they surrendered her as the only member of the party to defend her actions during the fight against apartheid.

We also see explosive confessions by former heads of apartheid security police, admitting they had 40 journalists on their payroll and used them to spread misinformation about Ms Madikizela-Mandela in a convert mission known as Stratcom.

For many the documentary answers a lingering question many South Africans had: Why could Nelson Mandela forgive his oppressors and not his wife for her indiscretions?

The film alleges that when Mr Mandela was fresh out of prison and the presidency beckoned, he was given an ultimatum by the ANC leadership to "divorce Winnie or lose the presidency".

Perhaps this was the ultimate betrayal for Ms Madikizela-Mandela.

Here are a sample of views on Twitter about the documentary:

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Winnie Mandela: Tributes paid to "Mother of the Nation"
President Cyril Ramphosa and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.