Yanga Chief’s Open Letter to Nelson Mandela, “Manelo”

In 1960, the Apartheid government banned the ANC. The banning followed the Sharpville Massacre, forbade any anti-Apartheid activity, and was only overturned in 1990. In 1989, while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, Chicco Twala released “We Miss You Manelo”. Because the regime censored any media speaking to the political climate of the time, or addressing banned persons or organisations, Chicco resorted to subterfuge in appealing to a national hero during a time when the country was in political turmoil.

Wanting to raise the spirits of the populace by reminding them of a fearless leader spoken of only in hushed tones and behind closed doors, he replaced the name “Mandela” with “Manelo” in the track, avoiding apartheid censors and bringing the memory of an anti-Apartheid leader to the fore.

It’s 2020, and Yanga Chief pens a letter to “Manelo” in his latest track. While the mention of Nelson Mandela’s name is no longer banned, he appeals to the spirit of the time in the single; one of righting political wrongs, and oppression by the ruling class.

With a sombre tone (in stark contrast to Twala’s upbeat original), in “Manelo” Yanga Chief delves into the failings of SA’s current political leadership, that of the ANC. Starting off the track with “Inoba ndi-wrong, kodwa yeyi iyatyiwa le mali” he goes on to lament the corruption of politicians at the expense of the general populace.

Check out “Manelo” below.

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