MUSIC: Let Mandela’s Legacy Live On in the Lives We Chose to Live



Today, while the world reflects on the legacy of South Africa’s radiant son, I’ll take this moment to share a universal message dedicated to Nelson Mandela by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It pretty much sums up my feelings and hopes for the future.

“One wants to think in terms of big words when describing him, but this would not be right,” the choral group wrote on its Facebook page just hours after Mandela’s death. “Among the many things one can say about our Madiba is that he never thought of himself as big. He was one of us, one of the people. His journey was our journey. And although he has physically left us now, his journey continues within us all.”

I never had an opportunity to cross paths with Mandela, but I vividly recall what a tremendous honor it was to meet Ladysmith as a young reporter in the Virgin Islands. Then, many years later while attending grad school in Ohio, I was more than elated to chat with members of the Grammy Award-winning act backstage after a show. The warmth and sincerity still resonates.

If you frequent this blog, you’ll notice I write a lot about House music and its deeper connections. And, in recent years I’ve come to appreciate South Africa’s influence on the far-reaching genre thanks to the sounds and vision of artists such as DJ Black Coffee. But, today my mind went straight to Ladysmith Black Mambazo while considering what to write following such a profound loss. Whether through music or by example, I simply hope Mandela’s legacy will live on in the lives we chose to live.


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