Musings —12.06.2013 08:12 AM—
Many moving tributes to Nelson Mandela this morning, and many of them describing how he was their spark: to oppose racism, to oppose oppression, to oppose totalitarianism.
I was involved in anti-racism stuff before I had ever heard Mandela’s name – in the Calgary punk scene, with movements like Rock Against Racism. I detested nationalism and separatism, and I helped to organize many gigs to express that.
It was later, during my time in law school in Calgary, that a single song persuaded us to learn more about the ANC leader and South Africa’s apartheid. It was the Special AKA’s ‘Free Nelson Mandela,’ and it was all about what the song’s title suggests. Jerry Dammers’ little song was so catchy, and so powerful, that I daily walked around in 1983 and 1984 wearing a FREE NELSON MANDELA t-shirt. (It’s long lost, and I would give plenty to replace it.)
Can music change the world? Not really, no – but sometimes, yes. ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ woke up a lot of white, suburban punk kids in faraway Calgary, Alberta to something important. Music has the power to do remarkable things like that. So, this morning, I offer it to you here.
Dance in your office. Make everyone else do likewise!