Monday, November 10, 2008


South African singing legend Miriam Makeba has died aged 76, after being taken ill in Italy.
She had just taken part in a concert near the southern town of Caserta, the Ansa news agency reported. The concert was on behalf of Roberto Saviano, the author of an expose of the Camorra mafia whose life has subsequently been threatened.
Ms Makeba appeared on Paul Simon's Graceland tour in 1987 and in 1992 had a leading role in the film Sarafina!
Ansa said she died of a heart attack.


Ms Makeba was born in Johannesburg on 4 March 1932 and was a leading symbol in the struggle against apartheid. Her singing career started in the 1950s as she mixed jazz with traditional South African songs. She came to international attention in 1959 during a tour of the United States with the South African group the Manhattan Brothers. She came to international attention in 1959 during a tour of the United States with the South African group the Manhattan Brothers. She was forced into exile soon after when her passport was revoked after starring in an anti-apartheid documentary and did not return to her native country until Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Makeba was the first black African woman to win a Grammy Award, which she shared with Harry Belafonte in 1965.

She was African music's first world star, says the BBC's Richard Hamilton, blending different styles long before the phrase "world music" was coined. After her divorce from fellow South African musician Hugh Masekela she married American civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael. It was while living in exile in the US that she released her most famous songs, Pata Pata and the Click Song. "You sing about those things that surround you," she said. "Our surrounding has always been that of suffering from apartheid and the racism that exists in our country. So our music has to be affected by all that." It was because of this dedication to her home continent that Miriam Makeba became known as Mama Africa.

News courtesy of

Such a huge loss to Africa but I guess in her songs and all that she has done for the fight for freedom, she will live on. I am just glad God gave her enough time to see the face of History changed forever. At least, she will rest in even perfect peace, RIP Mama Africa!

Please share with us your memories of her, it may be through her song or through personal experiences.
Dulce Camer


Anonymous said...

dulce you said it. i was thinking exactly the same thing re the obama victory. for someone who lived so close to america's fight for racial equality, i'm sure she had some thoughts that amazing tuesday night.

i'll remember her most for "pata pata" and "malaika," the swahili folk tune which she immortalised. i also can't get the picture of her and paul simon performing on his graceland video.

my biggest regret is that i never got to see her live. i don't think i quite appreciated her music and so i missed the opportunity to see her perform in manchester a few years ago. that's one decision i'd change in a flash.

in her music, charisma and infectious smile, mama africa lives! may she rest in peace with all the ancestors.


Menoosha said...

oh dear, so many emotional events in less than 2 weeks! I am glad at least that she lived to see a black man taking over America. Let's be sad she left, but also glad because she will now be with her late daughter Bongi Makeba.

RIP Zenzi!