Mama Africa

Miriam Makeba during a concert
Miriam Makeba during a concert

Dear all, today we will be talking about a great true African legend: Miriam Makeba! Well… where should I start? Zenzile Miriam Makeba, affectionately named Mama Africa was a singer who truly showed that music had no boundaries, and that music could be used as a platform to launch a revolution; above all, if you are passionate and excel in something, you can always do great things! Miriam Makeba started as a singer in South Africa, and was even married to the great South African trumpetist Hugh Masekela at one point. This woman sang about her love for her country, her people, and the struggle of her people. Like she said herself: “I was never politically involved. People always think that I’m political or that I sing politics, but I’m not. I just speak the truth. When I say we’re oppressed, I’m not lying. I’m glad I’ve been vindicated, in a way. I could have been in parliament, but I’m not a politician, I’m a singer. I love to sing, that’s what makes me happy” Miriam was a true warrior dedicated to the liberation of African people.

Miriam Makeba on the cover of her album Pata Pata
Miriam Makeba on the cover of her album Pata Pata

Miriam Makeba was never allowed the right to return home for 30 years by the apartheid government (from 1960-1990). She was not able to go to her mother’s funeral. Her song Welela is about a child yearning for her mother. In 1961, she sang at President Kennedy’s birthday, as she puts it: “I was the only foreign artist among the big giants of America paying tribute to him.” She spoke at the United Nations in New York, where she said: “I ask all the leaders of the world: would you act differently, would you keep silent and do nothing if you were in our place, would you not resist if you were allowed no right in your own country because the color of your skin was different from the color of the rulers?” Her records were subsequently banned in South Africa. She used her fame to let the world know about the suffering of Black South Africans. Her most popular songs include Pata Pata, the Click Song, and her beautiful rendition of Malaika! She later sang about the Soweto uprising (1976) in her title “Soweto Blues” written for her by Hugh Masekela.

When Miriam married the Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael, her shows were canceled in the USA, as the FBI was after him. She picked up her bags with her husband and went to Guinea, where president Sekou Toure allowed them in. She even had a Guinean passport and was a United Nations ambassador for Guinea!

True African Beauty
True African Beauty

She was finally allowed to return to South Africa after Nelson Mandela got out of jail. He actually asked her to come back… So 30 years later, this great woman of power return to her country after losing her mother, and only daughter Bongi Makeba. I have attached this beautiful documentary. Please watch and celebrate a strong African Woman… a legend, a woman who loved her people so much that she sang about it, and spoke about it at the United Nations. In later years, she has also been an FAO ambassador (to fight hunger), United Nations Goodwill ambassador, and opened a girls’ school in South Africa for orphans, girls who have been raped, etc…

In a way, even though Miriam Makeba lost her only child, she was a mother to all of us, and fought for all South African, and African children. Thank you Beautiful Mama Africa. God loves you! We have to continue your legacy of strong African women, and legends!

Makeba: My Story
Makeba: My Story

Check out Wikipedia page on Miriam Makeba, and add more if you have more information on Miriam’s life (We, Africans, have to put our people on these pages, nobody will do it for us!). Check out Miriam Makeba’s website, and the article by the Guardian: Miriam Makeba. Don’t forget to check out her books: Makeba: The Miriam Makeba Story, Makeba: My Story, and Myriam Makeba une Voix pour l\’Afrique.

3 thoughts on “Mama Africa

  1. Pingback: Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika – God Bless Africa « African Heritage

  2. Pingback: Oliver N’Goma, le roi incontesté du Zouk Africain | African Heritage

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