I Owe No Apology
Mighty Sparrow Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

I am Nelson Mandela, freedom fighter,
Liberator of my people in South Africa.
Then so be it Mr Koppel, I owe no apology!

Interviewing Nelson Mandela on a TV show
Ted Koppel was the interviewer, I want you to know
He wanted Mandela to condemn Muammar Qaddafi,
Fidel Castro, Yasir Arafat right there on TV
Mandela say these people help me when apartheid was on the rise
I turned to them out of necessity so I do not apologise, you hear
Though it grieves me to see the people suffering but...

Chains of bondage have been placed on my head
To impede my progress
Thorns and thistles have been laid on my bed
To curtail my rest
I've been tortured and suffered immensely
They isolate me, incarcerate me
Still in spite of their barbarous cruelty
I will never apologise for my identity

No apology for my color, it is part of me
I'm wearing it bravely with honour, pride and dignity
How can I say sorry for a birthright made proud by my forefathers?
A skin that blends with the darkness of
Night yet distinguishes me from others?
There were times I know because of
It tears of sorry had filled my eyes
But the Lord made me free in spirit and I do not apologise, you hear
He scratch he head and continue complaining that...

Chains of bondage have been placed on my head
To impede my progress
And then he said, thorns and thistles have been laid on my bed
To curtail my rest
They subject me to gross inhumanity
Brutality, hostility
But no matter how rough their tactics be
I will never apologise for my identity.

I owe no apology. Personally, I have done no wrong
And what I have endured physically have made me more strong
How could I be ashamed of a mind that refuses to be twisted?
A heart as warm as the morning sunshine, a character so gifted?
With these trials and tribulations, I am fulfilling destiny
In my quest for emancipation, I owe no apology, you hear
Sit down there, feel is joke I making...

Chains of bondage have been placed on my head
To impede my progress
And then he said, thorns and thistles have been laid on my bed
To curtail my rest
I've had my share of pain and misery
It was ghastly, downright nasty
They try hard but they fail miserably
'Cause I'll never apologise for my identity

No apology for my culture, for it suits me fine
The folklore of all my ancestors makes me feel sublime
I am not repentant of a music that expresses how I feel
These sweet melodies come from deep
In my soul, enriching all my ideals
He say, the rhythm does give me
Courage and the lyrics does make me wise
So in spite of all the advantage, I do not apologise, you hear
Though it grieves me to see the people suffering but...

Chains of bondage have been placed on my head
To impede my progress
And then he said, thorns and thistles have been laid on my bed
To curtail my rest
Their exercises were in futility
That's when they gave me psychotherapy
But they surrendered while I'm shouting, "Victory!"
'Cause I'll never apologise for my identity

And that's the way it is.




Have I paralysed you, Mister Koppel?
Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha!

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Mighty Sparrow's song I Owe No Apology relay a message of self-acceptance and perseverance in the face of adversity. The song explains how Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and an anti-apartheid activist, was interviewed by Ted Koppel on a TV show. Koppel asked Mandela to condemn the leaders of some countries that were seen as unfavorable by the international community. However, Mandela refused to do so, citing how these leaders had supported him during apartheid. Mandela refused to apologize for his identity, culture, or color, which he saw as an inherent part of himself.


Line by Line Meaning

I am Nelson Mandela, freedom fighter,
Mandela introduces himself as a fighter who helped liberate South Africa


Liberator of my people in South Africa.
Mandela claims to have liberated the people of South Africa from apartheid


Then so be it Mr Koppel, I owe no apology!
Mandela does not owe an apology to Ted Koppel for not condemning certain people on TV


Interviewing Nelson Mandela on a TV show
Koppel interviewed Mandela on his TV show


Ted Koppel was the interviewer, I want you to know
Mighty Sparrow specifies that Koppel is the interviewer in question


He wanted Mandela to condemn Muammar Qaddafi,
Koppel's request of Mandela was to condemn Muammar Qaddafi


Fidel Castro, Yasir Arafat right there on TV
Koppel also wanted Mandela to condemn Fidel Castro and Yasir Arafat on live television


Mandela say these people help me when apartheid was on the rise
Mandela defended his relationship with these leaders by stating how they had helped him during apartheid.


I turned to them out of necessity so I do not apologise, you hear
Mandela insists he has done nothing wrong by working with these leaders and does not owe anyone an apology.


Chains of bondage have been placed on my head
Mandela uses a metaphor to discuss how he was held captive and oppressed


To impede my progress
He suggests that the oppression was to prevent him from succeeding or making progress


Thorns and thistles have been laid on my bed
Mandela again uses a metaphor to describe the discomfort and pain he experienced during his captivity


To curtail my rest
Mandela suggests that one of the goals of the oppression was to prevent him from resting or sleeping properly


I've been tortured and suffered immensely
Mandela states that he was tortured and endured a great deal of suffering


They isolate me, incarcerate me
Mandela was isolated and imprisoned, likely by the apartheid government


Still in spite of their barbarous cruelty
Despite the brutal treatment he suffered, Mandela refuses to back down


I will never apologise for my identity
Mandela stands firm in his identity and refuses to apologize for who he is


No apology for my color, it is part of me
Mandela refuses to apologize for his skin color and considers it an inherent part of his being


I'm wearing it bravely with honour, pride and dignity
Mandela embraces his identity and wears it proudly, regardless of the difficulties he has faced


How can I say sorry for a birthright made proud by my forefathers?
Mandela considers his identity a birthright and refuses to apologize for it, as it was passed down from generations before him.


A skin that blends with the darkness of
Mandela again discusses his skin color


Night yet distinguishes me from others?
He explains how his skin color sets him apart from others, yet helps him fit in with other dark-skinned people


There were times I know because of
Mandela acknowledges that there were times when he's had to overcome adversity because of his skin color


It tears of sorry had filled my eyes
He admits that he's shed tears because of how people have treated him because of his color


But the Lord made me free in spirit and I do not apologise, you hear
Despite the hardships he's faced, Mandela is grateful to be free in spirit and stand strong in his identity


Chains of bondage have been placed on my head
Mandela repeats this line again to emphasize the metaphor of being held captive


Their exercises were in futility
Mandela suggests that the oppressive efforts of others were useless


That's when they gave me psychotherapy
He may be referring to efforts by the government to make him question his behaviors or beliefs


But they surrendered while I'm shouting, "Victory!"
Despite efforts to break him, Mandela prevailed


'Cause I'll never apologise for my identity
Mandela emphasizes, again, his staunch refusal to apologize for his identity, no matter how hard he's been pushed


No apology for my culture, for it suits me fine
To emphasize how deeply he feels it, Mandela states that he will not apologize for his culture and that it serves him well


The folklore of all my ancestors makes me feel sublime
Mandela celebrates his ancestry and all the culture that comes with it


I am not repentant of a music that expresses how I feel
He feels no regret about music that represents his feelings and experiences


These sweet melodies come from deep
Mandela emphasizes how genuine and heartfelt his music is


In my soul, enriching all my ideals
The melodies enrich his sense of self and ideals


He say, the rhythm does give me
Mandela appears to be quoting someone else who has spoken to him about music


Courage and the lyrics does make me wise
The music is what helps Mandela remain strong and keeps him wise


So in spite of all the advantage, I do not apologise, you hear
Again, Mandela is insistent that no matter what people say or do, he won't apologize for who he is


I owe no apology. Personally, I have done no wrong
Mandela reiterates that he has done nothing wrong and will not apologize for what he believes in


And what I have endured physically have made me more strong
Mandela suggests that the pressures he's endured have only strengthened him


With these trials and tribulations, I am fulfilling destiny
For Mandela, the difficulties he's faced are all part of his destiny and purpose


In my quest for emancipation, I owe no apology, you hear
Mandela claims that working towards emancipation is something that doesn't require an apology


Sit down there, feel is joke I making...
Mandela makes a lighthearted comment to Koppel, suggesting that he has lightened the mood


Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha!
Here, the meaning is quite literal - Mighty Sparrow is laughing out loud!




Contributed by Ethan H. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Comments from YouTube:

Marle de bakker

The most beautiful song sang by The Mighty Sparrow. Good response by Nelson Mandela.

Savvynlady

One thing about Sparrow, he tackle political issues as well as other stuff. much respect.

Anthony Tenia

What a SUPER CALYPSO !! Fantastic LYRICS, DICTION and MUSIC !! Leston Paul at his best along with SPARROW !!!! Those were the days.......WOW !!!!!!

E. Leo Hassan Modeste

The king of Calypso yes!!! God bless you Sparrow and the great Nelson Mandela. 🇿🇦🇹🇹

SuperSnk1

Another Gem from the King. Tell dem Doc. Tell dem.

Michael Passee

Well done my fellow Grenadian.

Exodus Pessoa

R.I.P to the best thing this planet has ever produced his name is MADIBA.

Winsford Devine

the late theadore guerra is who inspired me to write this song for sparrow the lyrics came from an american poem winsford devine

SuperSnk1

I support your post 100% .

Nicholas Moolchan

RIP MADIBA

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