It was the dying years of the Apartheid regime in South Africa; after the release of Free Nelson Mandela, but before de Klerk had opened negotiations with him.
Paul Simon was already a famous singer-songwriter. He had made his name with Simon & Garfunkel. But he had made some classic songs after his split with Art Garfunkel. He went to South Africa and made a number of 'joint-venture' songs with Black South African artists.
Paul Simon - Graceland
It was hugely controversial at the time: should it be treated as a breach of the cultural embargo? To make matters worse, Paul Simon, simply didn't agree with the boycott, arguing that by exposing Black South African artists to global acclaim would erode white separatist culture better than leaving them in isolation.
Of course, for ordinary mortals, Simon's arguments would be spurious. The problem was that bot the man and the work were so obviously great!