UPDATE: Nelson Mandela died at home in Johannesburg at age 95 on Thursday Dec. 5, 2013.
The makers of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," a biographical film starring Idris Elba, must have assumed it would be an epitaph for one of the greatest and bravest political figures of all time after Nelson Mandela was hospitalized earlier this year. But as with the rest of his life, the now 95-year-old Mandela has persevered and beaten all the odds, though he remains under medical care at his home.
A civil rights pioneer, anti-apartheid crusader, author, philanthropist and former South African president, Mandela is a global inspiration. But the scope of Mandela’s influence transcends politics -- over the course of the last 50 years, his work has also inspired a number of famous songs. These now include "Ordinary Love," the new song by U2, written for the new film's soundtrack.
"When I asked them to consider writing a song for 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,' it was the fastest 'yes' I have ever received," famed movie producer Harvey Weinstein said. "The band saw various cuts of the film over the summer and worked diligently to write a song that truly reflects Nelson Mandela. I think they did a brilliant job honoring the man and the leader they have known for over 20 years."
In the video gallery below, we take a look at the best songs written in Mandela’s honour.
"Ordinary Love" by U2
"I wrote to Bono and asked him to see the movie," the director of "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," Justin Chadwick, told <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/mandela-screening-u2-filmmakers-talk-660327" target="_blank">The Hollywood Reporter.</a> "I know obviously of [Bono's] connection with Mandela's family and the struggle -- and Northern Ireland went through a struggle as well and that band formulated out of that struggle -- and when he saw the movie, connected with it and saw actually what the heart of the movie was, which is a film about love and forgiveness. So, he and the band went back to their roots and it's a very, very raw recording. 'Ordinary Love' is a beautiful track that echoes the early U2."
"Free Nelson Mandela" by The Special AKA
One of the most famous political songs in history, this 1984 single by Coventry-based The Special AKA was inspired by the movement to end Mandela's imprisonment, which lasted from 1962 to 1990. With its upbeat, ska vibe, the song quickly became a global anthem, and it dominated the airwaves six years before Mandela’s release. The tune was later updated twice, in celebration of Mandela’s 70th and 90th birthdays.
"46664 (Long Walk to Freedom)" by Joe Strummer and Bono
46664 is remembered both as Mandela’s prison number and the name of the campaign he started in 2002 to support HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. This song was written by Bono and Joe Strummer, shortly before The Clash icon’s sudden death. Here’s a recording of the song being performed by Bono, The Edge, Jamaican singer-songwriter Abdel Wright, and The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, and Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour at the 46664 concert for Nelson Mandela in 2003.
"Bring Him Back Home" by Hugh Masekela
South African singer and trumpeter Hugh Masekela had a number of pop jazz hits in the United States in the late ‘60s, and even made an appearance at the famed Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. This song, an anthem to end Mandela’s imprisonment, became arguably Masekela’s most famous song upon its release in 1987.
"Asimbonanga" by Johnny Clegg
One of the most prominent musicians in the history of South Africa, Johnny Clegg found fame with Juluka, a bi-racial band whose songs were banned from state radio but became word-of-mouth hits anyway. The title of this 1987 song translates into "We haven't seen him," and it called for Mandela’s release from prison. Here's Clegg performing the song at a 1999 concert that features a visit from Mandela himself.
"Black President" by Brenda Fassie
Known as "the Queen of African Pop," Fassie was known for her bold stage antics. She released this song in 1990 as an ode to the newfound freedom of the man she called "the people's president." Just four years later, Fassie’s dream of a black president for South Africa would come true.
"When You Come Back" by Vusi Mahlasela
Known to South Africans as "The Voice," famed songwriter Vusi Mahlasela released this song two years after Mandela's release from prison. Written about the political exiles who had left the country during the apartheid era, the song's message of hope made it arguably the most famous song of this era of dramatic change. Two years later, Mahlasela performed the song at Mandela's inauguration.
"Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid
Spearheaded by E Street Band guitarist Steven van Zandt, "Sun City" was an all-star one-off single in the vein of "We Are The World." Fusing the sounds of hip-hop, rock and R&B, the song protested South Africa's apartheid system, calling specific attention to the controversial Sun City casino resort.
"Gimme Hope Jo’anna" by Eddy Grant
Guyana-born reggae star Eddy Grant had never visited South Africa when he released this song in 1988, but the tune became a widely played anthem of hope anyway. "Jo'anna" refers to the plight of the city of Johannesburg, and the song also references Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the fight against apartheid. Grant's song has since become something of an unofficial national anthem to the South African people.
"Iqalapha" by Nomfusi & the Lucky Charms
Johannesburg-based Afro-soul singer Nomfusi and her band dedicated this song to Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, who worked together to successfully end South Africa's apartheid system. Nomfusi also appears as famed South African singer Miriam Makeba in the new film "Long Walk to Freedom."
"Madiba Bay" by Koos Kombuis
Released in 1997 after the fall of apartheid, the title track on this album by Afrikaans troubadour Kombuis celebrates "a new day beginning" for South Africa. "Madiba" has been made famous as Mandela's reverential nickname, taken from the clan to which he belongs.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Mandela died on Dec. 12. The date has been corrected.