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
Writer(s) Sinéad O'Connor
Producer(s) Sinéad O'Connor
Kevin Mooney
Sinéad O'Connor singles chronology
"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 350,000 copies and would remain on the charts for about six months. 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.[4]

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 #17 in the singles chart, #6 in her native Ireland, #24 in The Netherlands, #26 in Belgium, #18 in New Zealand and #39 in Australia.[5]

The song was also a big college radio hit in the US. In 1988, O'Connor sang "Mandinka" on Late Night with David Letterman,[6] in what was her first US network television appearance. She also sang the song live at the 1989 Grammy Awards.


  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. ^ "unknown". Minneapolis Community & Technical College Library. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Sinéad O'Connor Mandinka. YouTube. 4 October 2013.