In 1987, Sinéad O’Connor released her debut album titled “The Lion and the Cobra”. O’Connor, age 20 at the time, recorded the album while heavily pregnant with her first child.
The second single released from the album was “Mandinka”, the video was shown heavily after debuting January 24, 1988 on 120 Minutes on MTV. The single was a mainstream pop hit in the UK, peaking at #17 in the singles chart, as well as her native Ireland.
The single was 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.
Sinéad also sang the song live at the 1989 Grammy Awards.
In an interview in The Tech, April 12, 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.”
The track was remixed by Justin Strauss for the US Promo 12″ single release.
Mandinka (Extended Version) 7:36
Mandinka (Dub Version) 6:55
Mandinka (7″ Edit) 3:50