11th February 1990 The Freeing of Nelson Mandela

Free at Last!

Today we dance in celebration on this anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in South Africa in 1990. Incarcerated for almost three decades, subjected to inhuman conditions breaking rocks in a lime quarry, restricted to two visitors per year, and – a mere twenty-eight months before his release – still dismissed by Margaret Thatcher as no more than a terrorist leader, this World Hero’s epic re-entry into African affairs was an intercontinental event of epic inspiration to us the TV-wide audience who gazed for the first time upon this mythical figure as he emerged blinking and bedazzled by those first rays of freedom’s sun. At first he walked alone. That long walk… was he saying goodbye to those certain special prison-mates, those whom he had at his lowest moments resigned himself to spending the rest of his life with? But as we watched, we sang that demented calypso that Jerry Dammers had rammed down our throats so successfully. And when the following morning we passed by South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, only then with the sudden absence of the seemingly perpetual anti-apartheid protestors did we understand that the unimaginable had happened. Yes, and on this day they truly freed Nelson Mandela. Never in history has there been such an example of the so-called terrorist reaping the rewards of his lifelong struggle at this rarefied level of righteousness.

RIP Mandela! Viva Mandela!

[Written by Dorian and Julian Cope]

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