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Road Scholar - the world leader in educational travel for adults. Top ten travel destinations for African-Americans. Fascinating history, welcoming locals, astounding sights, hidden gems, mouth-watering food or all of the above - our list of the world’s top ten "must-see" learning destinations for African-Americans has a little something for everyone. - Miriam Makeba 'Mama Afrika': 1932 - 2008 - From Daily Independent (Lagos) - In Struggle Spotlight
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12 November 2008

Fittingly, the South African icon Miriam Makeba passed on after performing at a concert in Southern Italy against organized crime. The manner of her transition is a poignant testimony as to how her talents as a musician were always directed as part of the effort to uplift society.

Her demise represents a profound loss to the African continent. Her musical contribution was a factor in bringing down the obnoxious apartheid system. There is every reason to be grateful that she lived to see the unmourned dismantling of that system.

She could, of course, have taken the other route. Collaboration with the apartheid government would have made her life much more comfortable. She would definitely have saved herself the inconvenience of exile. The price was high. For example, in 1960 her attempt to return home to South Africa for her mother’s funeral was rebuffed by the authorities. She suddenly discovered that her passport had been revoked. To lose the opportunity to bury her mother must have left emotional scars and yet she fought on with nobility for a cause she believed in.

By deploying her talents, she set an example for a host of other artistes and musicians. Activitism such as hers was a precursor for later initiatives by musicians such as the “Concert for Bangladesh”, “Woodstock” and the various band aid initiatives. She had began a trend and set a worthy example.

The process that people like Makeba initiated can best be captured in a statement by the American President-elect, Barack Obama, who stated during his election campaign that “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”. Her noble role is in stark contrast to those (admittedly) lesser talented Nigerian musicians who repugnantly collaborated for pecuniary benefit in offering their services to Sani Abacha’s so-called million man march.

Makeba’s activitism straddled the decisive phase of the anti-apartheid struggle. She entered international prominence when she appeared in the anti-apartheid documentary “Come Back, Africa” in 1959. In 1963, she made a moving speech when she appeared before the United Nations (UN) Special Committee on Apartheid calling for an international boycott of South Africa. Her non-stop activitism cannot overshadow her greatness as one of the truly outstanding artists for our time. The South African foreign Minister - Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma - was absolutely correct in stating that, “One of the greatest songsters of our time, Miriam Makeba has ceased to sing.”

She was awesomely talented. Some of her hit songs such as “Pata Pata”, “The Click song” and “Malaika” are not just evergreen, they have become seminal classics.

She started her career first of all with an amateur group. In the 1950s she became a full time singer appearing with a band called “The Manhattan Brothers”, before forming her own group, “The Skylarks” whose repertoire infused a blending of jazz with the traditional melodies of indigenous South Africa. This fusion created an original brew widely imitated and copied and still a significant theme in music today. As one observer, Laurence Ani, has perceptibly pointed out: “The true test of art is in its ability to stay evergreen. Makeba’s music has remained appealing decades after, surviving the onslaught of disco, hip-hop and the sub-cultures they have inspired in Africa.” She had great sessions and toured with contemporary musical icons such as Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Hugh Masekela, Pizzy Gillepsic amongst many others.

Not surprisingly, the singer as activist who was received by world leaders such as John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Francois Mitterand, Haile Sellasie amongst others has been showered with accolade since her demise at home and abroad. In her own country of origin, the African National Congress (ANC), which spearheaded the struggle against the apartheid regime was fulsome in its tribute. “The ANC will forever treasure the contribution made by Miriam Makeba in the struggle for liberation and building of our democracy”, the Party stated.

Younger artists for whom she was an endearing role model also mourned her passing. The South African diva, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, stated that “she is a legend. We will surely miss her.” Here in Nigeria, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, captured the mood of the moment when he expressed his disappointment that Africa’s greatest songster would not be alive to sing at the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

This newspaper salutes the indomitable courage of Mama Afrika. Her life is a testimony to courage and the use of God-given talents for the benefit of humanity. She made us all feel so proud to be Africans.

Originally published in Daily Independent, Lagos, Nigeria.


Makeba: The Miriam Makeba Story



Mama Africa: The Very Best of Miriam Makeba  

Pata Pata

Belafonte and Miriam Makeba


Her Essential Recordings: The Empress of African Song  

In Concert! / Pata Pata / Makeba!  

Miriam Makeba / World of Miriam Makeba


Paul Simon - Graceland (The African Concert)  



Live from Paris and Conakry

The Best of Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks

Evening With Miriam Makeba / Magic of Miriam

The Best of the Early Years

The Definitive Collection

Sing Me a Song

The Guinea Years

Live 1966

Keep Me in Mind

Eyes on Tomorrow

Miriam Makeba & the Skylarks, Vol. 1

Miriam Makeba & the Skylarks, Vol. 2

Only the Best of Miriam Makeba

Pata Pata

Le Monde de Miriam Makeba

Folk Songs from Africa

Country Girl

Live at the BBC

World Legends

South African Souvenirs

A Promise

Papa Kouyate w/ Miriam Makeba


Meet Me at the River

Makeba Sings! [Lp Record]

Miriam Makeba in Concert!



Africa (various artists)

Comme Une Symphonie D'amour


Sing Me a Song

Click Song, Vol. 1

With Miriam Makeba & Odetta

The Spirit of Africa  

The Best of Miriam Makeba

The Voice of Africa

Hits & Highlights  

Global Divas - Voices From Women of the World (3 Cd Set)

Le Monde de Miriam Makeba  


Mama Africa: The Very Best of Miriam Makeba


Paul Simon - Graceland (The African Concert)

Portrait of Africa

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November 20, 2008
Issue 300

is published every Thursday

Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
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