Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nelson Mandela, July 18, 1918-Dec. 5, 2013 -- tributes by the Soweto Gospel Choir and Kirk Franklin

A choral flashmob tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Soweto Gospel Choir in a Woolworth's store at a shopping center in Pretoria, South Africa, has gone viral. Posted Monday, Dec. 9, it had 2,619,561 views on YouTube as of 8 p.m. today. Woolworth's South Africa, which organized the event, gave this account:
Watch the Soweto Gospel Choir sing an incredible tribute to Madiba [Mandela's clan name] in our Parkview store.

On Saturday, 7 December 2013, Woolworths had planned a performance at our Parkview store in Pretoria to support our Operation Smile Christmas campaign. The Soweto Gospel Choir's planned a rendition of James Brown's I Feel Good. But, after Madiba's passing the choir decided on a tribute instead. They chose Johnny Clegg's Asimbonanga.

Woolies and Soweto Gospel Choir: Madiba Tribute.

Johnny Clegg, according to Wikipedia, is "[s]ometimes called Le Zoulou Blanc ('The White Zulu')." He is considered "an important figure in South African popular music history, with songs that mix Zulu with English lyrics and African with various Western music styles." The song performed by the Soweto choir is "Asimbonanga," which means "We haven't seen him" in the Zulu language. It "called for the release of Nelson Mandela" when he was still in prison, and "called out the names of three representative martyrs of the South African liberation struggle - Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, and Neil Aggett."

Kirk Franklin

American gospel singer Kirk Franklin was in South Africa on a previously arranged concert tour, and he was asked by the South African government to open for President Obama during the memorial service at a football stadium in Johannesburg. He sang "My Life Is In Your Hands," one of his own compositions:

Oh, I know that I can make it
I know that I can stand
No matter what may come my way
My life is in your hands
But there was poetry, too, in Franklin's first-person account for CNN:
So standing in the rain today, preparing to perform right before the President of the United States addressed the world, I took a deep breath, said a prayer and reminded myself "this is not about me." This is for all of the men and women who've passed on and never saw this dream come true for their homeland.

I imagined them embracing him, the souls of the beaten, the hurt and the martyrs who finished their race before Tata's and welcomed him home like a proud soldier. My mom is there in that number as well, and I hope that I, too, made her proud today.

"Tata," the Zulu word for father, is a affectionate name for Mandela in South Africa. There's some riveting footage of Franklin's performance embedded in the CNN report at …

And Franklin's entire song aired during a broadcast of the ceremonies by, billed as Ghana's Comprehensive News Website. They cut away to film President Obama going up to the speakers' dias, but returned to Franklin toward the end.


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