The Special AKA perform 'Free Nelson Mandela', the song written by Jerry Dammers that became an international hit. It was played in South Africa at football matches as a protest against the regime.

See Jerry's interview for more information about how he came to write it and its influence.


Julian Bahula’s Jazz Afrika, ‘Mandela’, written for the Festival of African Sounds at Alexandra Palace, north London, held on 17 July 1983 to celebrate Nelson Mandela‘s 65th birthday. Taken from ‘African Sounds for Mandela’, TS Afrika Records, 1983.

Jerry Dammers cites this as the inspiration for his hit song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.


The Nelson Mandela 70th birthday tribute concert was staged at Wembley Stadium, London on 11 June 1988. It called for freedom for Nelson Mandela, imprisoned since 1962. The concert was broadcast to over 60 countries, and made Mandela a household name in Britain and all over the world. After the concert 77 per cent of people in Britain knew who Mandela was and 70 per cent of them thought he should be released.

This is a collection of clips from the concert. Artists included Sting, Tracey Chapmen, Hugh Masekala, Peter Gabriel, Jerry Dammers, Whitney Houston, Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Simple Minds and Dire Straits.