The USA has put the cherry on Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday cake by finally erasing him as a terrorist leader from its files.
It is a footnote to the day chosen by London to celebrate the great man’s great age, past achievements, and ongoing combat against Aids through his 46664 charity. He will not actually turn 90 until next month, but as Mandela says himself, he might not have been invited if it had not been for events here two decades ago.
In 1988 “Free Nelson Mandela” was released as a protest pop song as British and international musicians led a campaign for Mandela’s release from a South African jail. The 20th anniversary brought out the rock aristocracy in force, Eddie Grant just one of a number of artists to get the vast crowd on its feet.
And it was the stars of Jerry Dammer’s anthemic “Free Nelson Mandela” alongside the performers of the past, and the present like Amy Winehouse, who closed the party with the song that did so much to weaken Mandela’s bars in Robben island prison.