Mandinka (song)

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Single by Sinéad O'Connor
from the album The Lion and the Cobra
Released 1 December 1987
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CD single
Recorded 1986-1987
Genre Indie rock[1]
Length 3:46
Label Chrysalis
Songwriter(s) Sinéad O'Connor
Producer(s) Sinéad O'Connor
Kevin Mooney
Sinéad O'Connor singles chronology
"I Want Your (Hands on Me)"
"I Want Your (Hands on Me)"

"Mandinka" is a song by Sinéad O'Connor from her 1987 album The Lion and the Cobra.[2] Sinéad O'Connor drew inspiration from many different sources, for example, her Irish tradition as well as Leonard Cohen, punk rock, and the nascent rap scene.[3]

In an interview in The Tech, 12 April 1988, O'Connor said: "Mandinkas are an African tribe. They're mentioned in a book called Roots by Alex Haley, which is what the song is about. In order to understand it, you must read the book."

O’Connor's initial album, "The Lion and the Cobra", sold a respectable 2,500,000 copies and would remain on the charts for about six months.[4] The single "Mandinka" also topped the dance chart. An explanation of the LP (Long Play) cut "I Want Your (Hands on Me)," was revised as Sinéad did a duo with female rapper M.C. Lyte, which helped her to keep her MTV profile higher.[citation needed]

The video for "Mandinka" was in heavy rotation after debuting 24 January 1988 in 120 Minutes on MTV. The single was a mainstream pop hit in the UK, peaking at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart, number 6 in O'Connor's native Ireland, number 24 in the Netherlands, number 26 in Belgium, number 18 in New Zealand, and number 39 in Australia.

The song was also a big college radio hit in the US. In 1988, O'Connor sang "Mandinka" on Late Night with David Letterman, in what was her first US network television appearance. She also sang the song live at the 1989 Grammy Awards.[5]


Chart (1988) Peak
Australia (Australian Music Report)[6] 39
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 26
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[8] 33
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 6
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[10] 24
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[11] 18
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[12] 17
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[13] 14


  1. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (13 August 2007). "Sinéad O'Connor: The Lion and the Cobra". Slant Magazine. 
  2. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (28 January 1988). "The Lion and the Cobra". Rolling Stone. 
  3. ^ Motz, Jason (16 October 2015). "Steps: Sinéad O'Connor - The Lion and The Cobra". Vivascene. 
  4. ^ Norman Abjorensen (2017-05-25). "Historical Dictionary of Popular Music". Rowman & Littlefield. p. 375. ISBN 1538102153. Retrieved 2018-02-12. 
  5. ^ "Sinead O'Connor - Mandinka (1989 Grammy's)" (video). Retrieved 2018-02-12. 
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 221. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA from mid 1983 until 19 June 1988.
  7. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – Mandinka" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 8655." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mandinka". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  10. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – Mandinka" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  11. ^ " – Sinéad O'Connor – Mandinka". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Sinead Oconnor Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 March 2018.