Pirate Radio, Freedom Songs, and The Release of Nelson Mandela | 18


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On this episode of History of the '90s, host Kathy Kenzora is looking at some aspects of the anti-apartheid struggle that you might not know; pirate radio and protest songs.

Pirate radio was a weapon used by the African National Congress to inspire black South Africans and counter propaganda and misinformation by the apartheid government. While protest songs performed by western musicians played a pivotal role in raising awareness in the rest of the world about the injustices in South Africa.

Pirate radio and protest songs inside and outside South Africa helped put pressure on the South African government and help end apartheid.

This led to the release of Nelson Mandela from a prison in Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most memorable events of the 1990s. We all remember the day he walked arm and arm with his wife and then raised a fist in victory after surviving 27 years behind bars.

Following Mandela’s release, apartheid was dismantled, and he became the first democratically elected President in a free South Africa.

It had been a long walk to freedom for Mandela and a long fight by all South Africans to end apartheid.

Songs mentioned in episode:

Biko, by Peter Gabriel


Free Nelson Mandela, by The Special AKA


Sun City, by Artists United Against Apartheid



Twitter: @1990shistory

Facebook: @1990shistory

Instagram: @that90spodcast

Email: 90s@curiouscast.ca


Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi (Ph.D.)

Associate Professor of History

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

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95 episodes