Bruce Springsteen Plays First South Africa Gig

Alex Crawford, Special Correspondent

Bruce Springsteen began his first tour to South Africa with a rousing rendition of the protest song Free Nelson Mandela.

And his audience in Cape Town loved it.

Earlier the singer spoke movingly about his admiration for South Africa's first democratically elected president, saying how honoured he felt to have just "been alive on this Earth at the same time".

Springsteen never met Mr Mandela, but in a rare interview he told Sky News how inspired he was by his ability to forgive those who jailed him for 27 years.

He said: "You just don't often get people like that."

The US music legend, known as 'The Boss', went on to talk about how momentous he found the election of Barack Obama, his country's first African-American president and a man he campaigned for.

He said: "Imagine he'd then been in prison for 27 years and then came out and was president?"

Springsteen was one of the musicians who fought against South Africa's apartheid laws, participating in the recording of the song Sun City in 1985 to highlight the injustice of the whites-only resort.

Alongside him on stage at Cape Town's Belleville Velodrome was Steven Van Zandt, the instigator of the cultural boycott of South Africa and founder of Artists Against Apartheid.

The movement raised awareness among Americans about the situation in South Africa as well as tens of thousands of US dollars for anti-apartheid projects.

But despite it being his first visit, Springsteen wasn't shy in pointing out that South Africa - and America - have serious challenges to overcome if they are to redress their economic disparities and inequalities.

He said: "These issues have to be resolved. Otherwise societies fall apart. It's very critical in the States and very critical here (South Africa) to keep societies intact."

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