Zim rapper releases Mandela Day song

HARARE - Hip hop artiste Don Dada, who made history in 1993 when he successfully fought for the right to wear dreadlocks at Avondale Primary School, has been given permission by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to compose a song from the late South African icon’s autobiography.

The Zimbabwe-born rapper has just released the 2017 Nelson Mandela Day song titled “Viva Mandela” which was inspired by the late South African liberation hero’s autobiography titled “Long Walk to Freedom.”

Don Dada (30), born Menelik Nesta Gibbons, who relocated to South Africa with his family when he was in Grade two, told the Daily News that his song was unlike previous ones that have been dedicated to Mandela.

"Most of the Mandela songs are sad and I wanted to make mine more upbeat. I wanted to change the way we think about the man who brought freedom to South Africans,” said the 30- year old musician who has not cut his hair since he was born.

“Viva Mandela,” which has a distinct Dada flavour incorporating hip hop and reggae, has been released ahead of the Nelson Mandela Day which falls on July 18-the day the late South African liberation icon was born in 1918.

To make the track more widely available, Don Dada’s mother and manager, Layla Gibbons, said they have made the song available on various digital platforms.

“Viva Mandela is available for download and streaming on MTN Music plus and on other digital platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play Music etc,” she told the Daily News.

The song, recorded at Don Dada's studio and record label, RuFF CuTT Studio, and produced by Super Producer Rapz, is a follow-up to his debut album Avant Garde which was released early this year.

Don Dada, who is popularly known as the Barry White of Hip Hop thanks to his booming baritone voice, has had a long working relationship with late South African music star Brenda Fassie’s son- Bongani.

“Bongani Fassie is like my brother so that’s deeper than rap… I have shared the stage with Riki Rick, Cassper Nyovest, Emtee, Kkwesta, Fifi Cooper and Sjavaas well as Femi Kuti even though the genres would be deemed as world apart,” Don Dada said.

The rising rapper is confident that he will perform in Zimbabwe this year.

“ I don’t want to jump the gun but chances are high that I will perform at some Zimbabwean festival before the end of the year,” he said, adding that his links with his country of birth will always remain strong.

“I was the first Zimbabwean in 1993 (after a big fight) to learn in a government school [Avondale Primary] with dreadlocks…I still have the hair that I was born with to this day.

“My connection to Zimbabwe is mentioned in most of my songs and I visit yearly. I am friends with Zimbabwean artistes like Mc Chita Herby Dangerous and many others. I think Zimbabwean artistes are extremely talented and their song writing is second to none,” said Don Dada.

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