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Miriam Makeba RIP

November 10th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

The South African singing legend Miriam Makeba died last night of a heart attack after performing at an anti-Camorra concert in Italy. She was 76.

In South Africa she will be remembered as the country”s first black female international star and as an ambassador for the struggle against apartheid. While on an overseas tour, during which she came to prominence thanks to the patronage of Harry Belafonte and Steve Allen, the apartheid regime banned her from returning to South Africa and withdrew her citizenship. After a while, Makeba was not much welcome in the USA either on account of her marriage to Black Panthers leader Stokely Carmichael. So she settled in Guinea, governed by her friend Ahmed Sékou Touré, a strongman reviled by many as anti-democratic but regarded among many Africans as a liberator from colonialism. All the while, she spoke out against apartheid, for Africa and for human rights, receiving UN awards in recognition of her advocacy.

She returned to South Africa in 1990, the year of the ANC”s unbanning and Nelson Mandela”s release from prison (indeed, it was Mandela who called her home). Known as Mama Afrika, she continued to record, but she was much more to the nation than a performer. She acted as a moral conscience to the nation.

Her influence on black culture internationally was profound. The black Afro look of the late “60s and early “70s was in large part attributed to Makeba”s model.

Makeba had survived a plane crash and beaten cancer. How anti-climactic that a mundane heart attack should claim her life, and yet, how fitting that she should have died just after coming off stage.

Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata (1956)
Miriam Makeba – The Click Song (1959)
Miriam Makeba – The Lion Song (Mbube) (1960)

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  1. Lizzle-ba-Dizzle
    November 10th, 2008 at 15:58 | #1

    Oh – it always makes me sad when I hear someone’s name for the first time by reading their obituary. That’s an impressive biography, and I’m currently enjoying the tracks you posted, although the enjoyment is a little bittersweet. Anyway, thanks. :)

  2. Anonymous
    November 11th, 2008 at 20:58 | #2

    One of the strongest women in history, and blessed with a wonderful voice. Thanks for posting this selection!

  1. September 26th, 2011 at 15:26 | #1