June 12, 2021

Nelson Mandela 70th Anniversary Tribute Concert turns 33

This Friday marks 33 years of the Nelson Mandela 70th Anniversary Tribute Concert. The 11-hour mega-event took place on June 11, 1988 at Wembley Stadium in London.

It was organized to call for the release of the anti-apartheid activist on his birthday.

The concert is also known as Freedomfest Y Free Nelson Mandela ConcertStarring Whitney Houston, Peter Gabriel, Dire Straits, Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman, George Michael, Eric Clapton, UB40, The Eurythmics and Simple Minds.

It was broadcast live on BBC signal 2 to 40 countries, with an estimated audience of one billion people.

Some television channels asked for the political aspect to be softened, but the message got through.

American singer Harry Belafonte set the tone, eliciting an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd: “Today we are here to pay tribute to a great man, This man is Nelson Mandela! “

Mandela’s release came 19 months later – in February 1990 – after being imprisoned for 26 years. Another concert celebrated the event.

“The prospect of an imminent release of Nelson Mandela seemed completely unrealistic“would later say Mike Terry, who has” no doubt “that the Wembley concert played a” decisive role “in achieving this.

Mandela, however, had already been negotiating in secret, for two years, with the apartheid regime, which international economic sanctions were beginning to weaken.

Then he continued the conversations with his adversaries, until he reached the organization of multiracial elections that turned him into the first black president of South Africa, in 1994.

The second event

Eighteen months after the event, Mandela asked the organizers to create a second concert as an official international reception. In it, after 27 years in prison, he would address the world.

The second event, Nelson Mandela: An International Tribute for a Free South Africa, Like the first, it was conceived to be broadcast on television worldwide from Wembley Stadium to more than 60 countries on April 16, 1990.