Watch this delightful video of an 81-year-old Nelson Mandela dancing on stage

December 5, 2013

There were many sides to Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-Apartheid leader and president who died today at age 95. The fun, sometimes-goofy side of Mandela was not his most important, but it was one small part of what him so beloved.

Few habits showed that side better than Mandela's love of dancing in public – a disarming, remarkably unselfconscious act for a statesman of his stature and for someone who had faced such grave challenges and dangers in his life. It's difficult to imagine any other figure who commanded such respect and yet could be so humble.

This video, taken when Mandela was a surprisingly spritely 81 years old, shows Mandela dancing freely beginning at the 2:45 mark. This is from a 1999 concert by the British-born South African musician Johnny Clegg, singing his 1986 song "Asimbonanga" calling for Mandela to be released from prison. Mandela walks out in an apparent surprise, dances a bit, speaks briefly to the crowd and then urges the band to play the song again, as he dances along.

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Max Fisher · December 5, 2013