Prince George's Coalition for Young Artists

A Musical Tribute to the Life of Nelson Mandela

“Artists reach areas far beyond the reach of politicians. Art, especially entertainment and music, is understood by everybody, and it lifts the spirits and the morale of those who hear it.”

Nelson Mandela
In South Africa, music was also significant to the eventual fall of the Apartheid regime. Music played a pivotal role in protests and campaigns against the apartheid regime. Thousands of people marched and sang protest songs in the streets regularly. While some of the marches were extemporaneous and non-­threatening, others were purposely executed with an electrifying force to invoke fear within government officials and supporters of the apartheid regime.  During some of the more demonstrative protests, marches included a dance step called the Toyi Toyi; this dance step figuratively resembled a battle with weapons, while shouting in great force “sifuna    ”, meaning “I want…..”.  They cried out in great fervor their desire for freedom, the abolishment of apartheid, and the release of Nelson Mandela. In response to these marches and demonstrations, the Casspir, a four-­ wheeled armored vehicle, dogs, and tear gas were used to dismantle the marches, usually resulting in bloodshed, often in huge amounts.  The singing did not stop once arrested as many prisoners sang nightly, encouraging themselves, building on the strength of each other as they continued exercising their resolve for racial equality behind bars.