Learn About the Impact of Nelson Mandela on Pop Culture

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist who later became the first president of South Africa and stayed in that position from 1994 to 1999. Mandela was their first black head of state and, more impressively, the first elected president by a fully representative democratic election.

Due to his activities, Mandela remained a controversial figure for the more significant part of his life. Everyone had an opinion about him, both good and bad. However, No one can deny that Nelson Mandela was a global icon of democracy and social justice. He was also acknowledged for his efforts through various prizes.

Mandela also won more than 250 honors, including the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize. Therefore, Mandela was a well-known figure who attracted the attention of many people worldwide. As a consequence, he had a massive impact on Pop Culture.

Many people drew inspiration from his life and his work, and they made various pieces of media that depicted all that he went through to achieve South Africa. There are songs, movies, and literature on the life of Nelson Mandela, which show his tremendous impact on pop culture.

Impact on Pop Culture

After Mandela died in 1999, he had a huge impact on the pop culture of 1999. His images began to circulate on the internet in the form of memes. His image was often paired with one of his inspirational quotes and posted on various chatrooms in these memes.

Therefore, his effect on the world was somewhat magnified as soon as he passed. Through the images, the youth got to know who he was and his impact on the world.

Similarly, various songs, movies, and literature were made about the president to highlight his achievements.


In the 1980s, when Nelson Mandela became a well-known figure, he inspired many songs, movies, and statues. These were created and released to help raise awareness among a wider international audience regarding his imprisonment and how unfair it was.

Free Nelson Mandela

Free Nelson Mandela is one of the many songs released to raise awareness about the unjust imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. This song has been performed by the band The Special, whose lead vocalist was Stan Campbell. A British musician, Jerry Dammers, initially wrote the song’s lyrics.

This song was released in 1984 as a single, and the b-side to the song was Break Down The Door. Mainly, the music acted as a protest against the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, carried out by the apartheid South African government. Therefore, Free Nelson Mandela is considered to be a noble anti-apartheid song.

In the song, the backing vocals are supplied by two girls called Molly and Polly Jackson. The drummer John Bradbury claimed to have met them in a bar and Camden, where they were performing.

Free Nelson Mandela is quite unlike other protest songs musicians made during this time. This song was upbeat and celebratory and made people excited instead of making them upset about the situation. Furthermore, it also drew musical influences from South African music.

Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)

Bring Him Back Home is another anti-apartheid protest song written to support Nelson Mandela. This anthemic protest song was written by a South African musician called Hugh Masekela and released as the first track of his album Tomorrow in 1987.

The song was recorded a year before its release when the lyricist himself was in exile from the apartheid regime. Bring Him Back Home has a cheerful melody and features many powerful chords and trumpet riffs.

The lyrics of the song demand that Nelson Mandela is released by the White South African government and was received well by the public. After its release, it became one of Masekela’s most famous songs, and the crowds clamored for him to perform it live.

When Nelson Mandela, the black South African leader, was imprisoned in 1962 on Robben Island, Bring Him Back Home came into being. He was a massive fan of the lyricist’s music, and thus he smuggled out a letter on Masekela’s birthday. In this letter, he expressed his good wishes. The musician was touched by the letter and wrote Bring Him Back Home in response.

Black President

Black President is a song by Brenda Fassie, a South African singer, who included the song in her sixth studio album with the same name in 1990. The song was written by Sello or Checco Twala and Brenda Fassie and was produced by Twala too.

The song was about Nelson Mandela and his comrades, wrongfully imprisoned by the South African apartheid government. Black President describes the release of Mandela speculatively and predates his official departure from Robben Island by four days.


Asimbonanga is an anti-apartheid song presented by Savuka, which was a racially integrated South African band. The song was from their 1987 album titled Third World Child. Asimbonanga was an extremely popular song as it was released at the peak of the unrest in South Africa.

The song talks about Nelson Mandela and another activist who was imprisoned in Robbens Islan by the South African apartheid government. It was later covered by many popular artists, including Soweto Gospel Choir and Joan Baez.

The composer of this song is Jhonny Clegg, and it is described as one of the three most incredible songs he has written.


Nelson Mandela’s life and his interest have also inspired many movies. These movies have been inspired by literature written on Mandela and his life’s work. They have expanded them so a wider audience can know more about the black president.


Invictus is a 2009 biological sports drama based on the book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, released in 2008. The drama film was directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

The movie revolves around the events in South Africa before and during the 1985 Rugby World Cup. The main team, called the Springboks, was not confident as they had just returned to international competition after unrest in their country. Since their own country was hosting the World Cup, they had gotten an automatic entry.

The film was a hit, and many reviewed it positively. It also received an Academy nomination for Morgan Freeman as the best actor. Matt Damon also received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom is a 2013 biographical film directed by Justin Chadwick. William Nicholson crafted the script, and it stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris. This movie is based on the autobiographical book Long Walk to Freedom, which Nelson Mandela wrote in 1995.

This movie details the life of the South African president. It started from when he was young, his education, his life before prison, and all the struggles he faced becoming the president of South Africa.

As the movie spans the life of Mandela, many actors play Mandela. Idris Elba takes on the role of Mandela as an older adult. Atandwa Kani plays 16 to 23-year-old Mandela, and Siza Pini plays Mandela aged 7 to 9.


Mandela’s struggles are inspirational to many, and the way he dedicated his life to ridding South Africa of apartheid is commendable. In his honor, there were many statues that were placed all over the world, in America, England, and South Africa. They serve as a reminder of the incredible human Mandela was.

City Hall, Cape Town 

A statue of Nelson Mandela was placed on the balcony of Cape Town City Hall. This statue overlooked the Grand Parada, Cape Town, South Africa, and was unveiled on July 24, 2018.

This statue was the first statue of the president post-apartheid and was constructed in honor of the first public speech he made after he was released from prison. The statue was strategically placed in the same position.

The year it was unveiled was also significant, as he would have been 100 years old if he was still alive in 2018. This initiative was a joint one between the City of Cape Town and the Government of Western Cape and was intended to attract more tourists to the region.

Mandela’s statue is human-sized and stands at 1.95m tall, which is slightly higher than Mandela’s original 1.85m height. The statue is made of bronze.

Embassy of South Africa, Washington DC

A statue of Nelson Mandela also stands in Washington DC outside the Embassy of South Arica. This statue has an impressive height of 2.7m and was unveiled on September 21, 2013. Jean Doyle made this outdoor sculpture.

Parliament Square, London

In London, there stands another statue of the former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist. This statue is a bronze sculpture placed in Parliament Square London.

The idea to erect a statue in his honor was originally proposed by Donald Woods to Mandela, who later set up a fund to raise money. The fund was led by Woods, his wife, and Lord Richard Attenborough, who took over after Wood’s death.

The statue was originally going to be placed on the north terrace of Trafalgar square, but it was shifted to Parliament Square, where it was unveiled on August 29, 2007. The statue is 2.7m high and was created by the English sculptor Ian Walters, who charged £400,000 for it.


Nelson Mandela is an extremely influential figure who led a tough but meaningful life. His work is inspirational and had an impact on the entire world. Even decades after his death, his efforts are remembered and applauded.

His impact on pop culture in 1964 and onwards was also significant as he inspired many to create songs, movies, literature, and art about his life and the anti-apartheid government.