Monday, November 10, 2008

'Mama Africa', Miriam Makeba, Joins the Ancestors at 76

Miriam Makeba dies in Italy

ROME, ITALY Nov 10 2008 07:17

South African singer Miriam Makeba, "one of the greatest songstresses of our time", died on Sunday night after collapsing as she left the stage following a performance in Italy, the Foreign Minister said on Monday.

"One of the greatest songstresses of our time, Miriam Makeba, has ceased to sing. Miriam Makeba, South Africa's Goodwill Ambassador, died performing what she did best -- an ability to communicate a positive message through the art of singing," said South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

"Throughout her life, Mama Makeba communicated a positive message to the world about the struggle of the people of South Africa and the certainty of victory over the dark forces of apartheid colonialism through the art of song."

The ministry said the 76-year-old Makeba died at the Veneto Verde hospital near Naples after performing at the Castel Volturno.

"She collapsed as she was leaving the stage. She received paramedic assistance and was rushed to hospital where she unfortunately passed away," the ministry said in a statement.

"On behalf of our President Kgalema Motlanthe, our ambassadors and high commissioners stationed abroad, management and staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs, we convey our heartfelt condolences to members of the bereaved family," said Dlamini-Zuma.

Makeba, affectionately known as Mama Africa, sang about Africa's struggles for independence.

"People gave me that name. At first I said to myself: 'Why do they want to give me that responsibility, carrying a whole continent?' Then I understood that they did that affectionately. So I accepted. I am Mama Africa," she told Agence France-Presse in an interview in 2005.

Makeba, whose most famous hits included Pata Pata, The Click Song (Qongqothwane in Xhosa) and Mailaka, died after taking part in a concert for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the Mafia, the Italian news agency said.

Miriam Zenzi Makeba was born in Johannesburg on March 4 1932.

As a child, she attended a training institute in Pretoria for eight years where she first started singing.

Her professional career kicked off in the 1950s with the Manhattan Brothers, before she formed her own group, The Skylarks.

She grabbed international attention in 1959 when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa.

She then went to London where she met Harry Belafonte. He helped her get entry to the United States, where she released many of her famous songs.

She received a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording in 1966 with Belafonte for An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba.

The album was about black South Africans living under apartheid.

When she tried to return to South Africa, she discovered that her passport had been revoked.

She testified against apartheid before the United Nations in 1963.

She was married to musician Hugh Masekela and Trinidadian civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, who was also the leader of the Black Panthers.

When her only daughter, Bongi Makeba, died in 1985, she moved to Brussels.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela persuaded her to return to South Africa in 1990.

She was always optimistic about post-apartheid South Africa, even though she acknowledged that it came with its own problems.

"We have only had 11 years of democracy but we are moving, we are moving forward faster than many countries who have been independent a long, long time before. We all have to do it together, all of us, found ourselves this country regardless [whether] we are black, white or whatever," she said in an interview.

Asked who the next Makeba would be, she replied: "No, nobody can replace me as I can't replace anyone else," and added that she wanted to leave a memory of, simply, a "very good old lady". - Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Responses to the passing of Mama Africa

Lala ngoxolo MAMA AFRICA. May the heavens rejoice to the coming of a new gracious choir member who will add her eloquent voice to te already magnanimous heavenly choir. The message you preached is still of great importance to this turbulent African continent of ours as liberators have turned killers and great oppressors of our time. To the African family i say peace be with you in these trying times. Your voice will be forever missed. Rest in Peace Miriam

Makebagromyko ngwenya on November 10, 2008, 11:28 am

May her soul rest in peace .My condolences to the Makeba family.Umzansi lost one of its true horoines indeed.

Nozinhle Dube on November 10, 2008, 11:36 am

VIVA the BEAUTIFUL SOUL & LIFE of Miriam Makeba, MAMA AFRICA!!! and all who loved her: her family, friends and all she inspired and will continue to do so. I 'was with' Miriam on Friday night at her concert in Amsterdam (I'm a South African living way too far away from home: "Africa is where my heart lies"!) - intensely beautiful: she sang happy birthday to a 75yr woman and wished that she "will be dancing like me when you are my age". She deeply thanked the people of the Netherlands for listening to and supporting South Africa. "We have not forgotten.. and we still need your support!" She (and we) SANG!!! danced, laughed, perhaps cried... and felt our hearts beat strongly with love and joy for LIFE. Miriam, I thank you forever for your incredible life and work for South Africa and PEACE.

kirsten neke on November 10, 2008, 1:09 pm

Rest in peace Mama Africa. You have run your race and we thank you for gracing us with your sweet voice and now it is time to sing with the angels. The world will always remember you and South Africa in particular will always remember the role you played during the liberation struggle. The fact that you sang your last note in a foreign land is proof enough that you will always reamain an international icon. lala ngoxolo!!!!

Bethuel Peter Nsibande on November 10, 2008, 7:43 am

May her soul rest in peace.
Nkateko Malabie on November 10, 2008, 9:17 am

if only emotions could describe the inability of expression within a human desire, imagining the world at large, being a supreme of humanity, defining UBUNTU at an international level, levelling sinking souls with your music. yes it came as a shock, with disbelief i remain. i wont ask the questiion most would as "why" i however thank god for allowing me to witness the power and prowess display by my legends, our legends. may your soul rest in peace! MAMA AFRICA, as is my journey to discover what seems impossible you remain an inspiration thank you. my condolences go to mama africa's family, friends and all who cared.

Bongani Mnguni on November 10, 2008, 9:26 am

Unsung heroin indeed. Rest in peace mamaMeriam Makeba. What a loss indeed. SA is very lucky to have you as an ambassador to UN.

Mokgadi Mathekga on November 10, 2008, 10:07 am

S African icon Miriam Makeba dies

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.

'Mama Africa'

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 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.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/11/10 07:06:38 GMT

Mandela's tribute to Makeba

Miriam Makeba spent years in exile for opposing apartheid

The text of Nelson Mandela's statement paying tribute to South African singing legend Miriam Makeba, who has died aged 76:

The sudden passing of our beloved Miriam has saddened us and our nation.

For many decades, starting in the years before we went to prison, MaMiriam featured prominently in our lives and we enjoyed her moving performances at home.

Despite her tremendous sacrifice and the pain she felt to leave behind her beloved family and her country when she went into exile, she continued to make us proud as she used her worldwide fame to focus attention on the abomination of apartheid.

Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and disclocation which she felt for 31 long years.

At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.

Even after she returned home she continued to use her name to make a difference by mentoring musicians and supporting struggling young women.

One of her more recent projects was to highlight the plight of victims of land mines.

She was South Africa's first lady of song and so richly deserved the title of Mama Afrika.

She was a mother to our struggle and to the young nation of ours. It was fitting that her last moments were spent on a stage, enriching the hearts and lives of others - and again in support of a good cause.

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