Jerry Dammers leads special performance of ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ – watch

The Spatial AKA Orchestra played a one-off version of the track for Channel 4

Former member of The Specials Jerry Dammers has paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela by performing a special instrumental version of his 1984 song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.

Dammers gathered his jazz ensemble, the Spatial AKA Orchestra, to play the song – originally performed by The Special AKA – in a special Channel 4 commission which was broadcast last night (December 6) as part of the Channel 4 News. Click above to watch footage of the performance.

Writing in The Mirror following Mandela’s death, Dammers said he hoped that people can still relate to the song. He commented: “I hope Free Nelson Mandela is still a rallying cry and people can relate to what it stood for, because one of the best ways we could remember Nelson Mandela is to listen to what he actually said. A lot of politicians are going to pay tribute to him, but if they actually listened to what he said, about freeing people from the prison of poverty, and acted on it, that would be the best tribute of all.”

Mandela passed away at the age of 95 on December 5 at home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and in 1994 became the first black president of South Africa. The 1984 song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ was written by Jerry Dammers and performed by The Special AKA to protest against Mandela’s imprisonment by South Africa’s apartheid government. An anti-apartheid activist, he was jailed from 1962 until 1990 for sabotage, becoming the world’s most famous political prisoner. Amy Winehouse performed ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ at Mandela’s 90th birthday concert at London’s Hyde Park in 2008.

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