Quote by Miriam Makeba on the Misrepresentation of Africa in the Media

miriam-makeba
Miriam Makeba

People in the United States [the West] still have a ‘Tarzan’ movie view of Africa. That’s because in the movies all you see are jungles and animals . . . We [too] watch television and listen to the radio and go to dances and fall in love.” Miriam Makeba

Great Quote on Shaka Zulu by Miriam Makeba

Shaka-Zulu
King Shaka, of the Zulu people

The British often talk of Shaka Zulu as the ‘Black Napoleon’, but I think that Napoleon was a white Shaka!” Miriam Makeba

Napoleon
Napoleon

Les Britanniques parlent souvent de [Chaka Zoulou] comme du ‘Napoléon noir’, mais je dis que Napoléon était un Chaka blanc.” Miriam Makeba

Quote by Miriam Makeba

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Miriam Makeba during a concert

In the West the past is like a dead animal. It is a carcass picked at by the flies that call themselves historians and biographers. But in my culture the past lives. My people feel this way in part because death does not separate us from our ancestors.” Miriam Makeba

So Long to Africa’s Jazz Maestro: Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela4
Hugh Masekela (Source: The Guardian)

As a child, my mother had all of Hugh Masekela‘s CDs, and so I grew up listening to his music. A few years back, I was fortunate enough to attend one of his concerts when he was on tour in the US. As his colleague and friend Yvonne Chaka Chaka said in the interview below, Masekela was very down to earth. After his concert, he came out, and greeted us… so I queued up and even got a chance to talk to him! Imagine that! I talked to the great Hugh Masekela! His enthusiasm was contagious! I particularly loved what he could do with his trumpet and his voice: simply amazing! Some of my favorite tracks were ‘Chileshe,’  ‘Strawberries‘ (not sure why, maybe because of the children’s chorus or the fact that as a child I could taste those juicy strawberries), ‘Coal Train (Stimela),’ ‘Khawuleza,’ ‘ The Boyz doin’ it‘, and countless others. Maybe it was his voice, slightly cracked and full of power, or the magic that came out of his trumpet, or the mix of African sounds,… all of it combined made Hugh Masekela, a genius African Jazz Trumpeter and musician.

Ramopolo Hugh Masekela was born on April 4, 1939, in Witbank, South Africa, a coal-mining town near Johannesburg. His father, Thomas Selema Masekela, was a health inspector and noted sculptor; his mother, Pauline Bowers Masekela, was a social worker. From a young age, he developed an early affinity to music, and was encouraged by his mentors to further the study of it. During an early trip to the US, he met Louis Armstrong, who offered his band a gift: a trumpet.

A true African beauty: Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba
A true African beauty: Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba

Hugh Masekela was not just a musician, but he was also a political activist who fought against that hateful system called apartheid. Throughout his career, he performed with great names such as Jimi HendrixJanis JoplinOtis Redding, and collaborated with Harry BelafonteHerb AlpertBob MarleyFela KutiPaul Simon — and his ex-wife, Miriam Makeba. For almost 30 years, “Bra Hugh,” as he was fondly known, was exiled from his native country.

And almost despite himself — as he struggled for decades with copious drug and alcohol abuse — Masekela became a leading international voice against apartheid. In that sense, Masekela was like the prodigal son, whom God greatly loved, and who despite the drugs, was redeemed and even founded an organization, the Musicians and Artists Assistance Program of South Africa, to help South Africans artists battle substance abuse.

He sought solace on his home continent. “For me, songs come like a tidal wave,” he said. “At this low point, for some reason, the tidal wave that whooshed in on me came all the way from the other side of the Atlantic: from Africa, from home.” Indeed, when one listens to songs like ‘Khawuleza’ full of energy, one does feel the tidal wave!

 

Hugh Masekela1
Hugh Masekela

Now Bra Hugh has taken his tidal wave and trumpet to the angels, who will be rocking to the sounds of ‘Chileshe‘ in heaven. I can clearly say that Hugh Masekela was one of the greatest, if not the greatest African Trumpeter of all. The New York Times published a very good article on him, the NPR as well, and the Guardian did a beautiful photo-Journal article on him: Hugh Masekela: life and career of the jazz trumpeter – in pictures. I live you with another great African singer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, tribute to Bra Hugh. Enjoy!

Great Quote by Miriam Makeba

Makeba-Miriam
True African Beauty: Miriam Makeba

The conqueror writes history; they came, they conquered, and they write. You don’t expect people who come to invade us to write the truth about us…” Miriam Makeba

Le vainqueur écrit l’histoire, ils sont venus, ils ont vaincu et ils ont écrit. On ne peut pas attendre de ceux qui nous ont envahi qu’ils écrivent la vérité sur nous…” Miriam Makeba

Great Quote by Miriam Makeba on Equality

miriam-makeba
Miriam Makeba, True African Beauty (sahistory.org.za)

I ask you and 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 rights in your own country because the color of your skin is different to that of the rulers, and if you were punished for even asking for equality? I appeal to you, and through you to all the countries of the world, to do everything you can to stop the coming tragedy. I appeal to you to save the lives of our leaders, to empty the prisons of all those who should never have been there.” Miriam Makeba

African Love Anthem: ‘Malaika’

A box of Valentine's day chocolate
A box of Valentine’s day chocolate

Who has not heard of the famous African love song ‘Malaika?’ The best known version of this song is the one sung by Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba. It is a Swahili song written by Tanzanian Adam Salim in 1945, who composed “Malaika” for his very beautiful girlfriend Halima Ramadhani Maruwa. Their parents disapproved of their relationship, and Halima was forced by her parents to marry an Asian tajir (wealthy man). The song is sung by a poor young man who wishes to marry his beloved ″Angel″ or ″Little bird″ but is defeated by the bride price.

A true African beauty: Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba
A true African beauty: Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba

This song is the most famous of all Swahili love songs in Tanzania, Kenya and the entire East Africa, as well as being one of the most widely known of all Swahili songs in the world; again, it was made popular around the globe by Miriam Makeba. Malaika means “angel” in Swahili, and this word has always been used by the Swahili speakers to refer to a beautiful girl. So this is to all the angels out there for this Valentine day.

 

 

 

Malaika

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio

Nashindwa na mali sina, we,

Ningekuoa Malaika

Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege

Kidege, hukuwaza kidege

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio

Nashindwa na mali sina, we,

Ningekuoa Malaika

Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika

Pesa zasumbua roho yangu

Pesa zasumbua roho yangu

Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio

Ningekuoa Malaika

Nashindwa na mali sina, we,
Ningekuoa Malaika

Angel

Angel, I love you angel

Angel, I love you angel

and I, what should I do, your young friend

I am defeated by the bride price that I don’t have

I would marry you, angel

I am defeated by the bride price that I don’t have
I would marry you, angel

Little bird, I think of you little bird

Little bird, I think of you little bird

and I, what should I do, your young friend

I am defeated by the bride price that I don’t have

I would marry you, angel
I am defeated by the bride price that I don’t have
I would marry you, angel

The money (which I do not have) depresses my soul
The money (which I do not have) depresses my soul
and I, what should I do, your young friend

I would marry you, angel

I am defeated by the bride price that I don’t have
I would marry you, angel

Miriam Makeba: Speech at the United Nations

Miriam Makeba
Miriam Makeba

Although just a singer, Miriam Makeba decided that she could not stay without telling the world about the oppression suffered by her people at the hand of the apartheid government. So, with a small voice, she stood at the United Nations General Assembly in 1963 and delivered a speech where she exhorted the leaders of this world to act. In her own words, 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?

Check it out:


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 www.miriammakeba.co.za, 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.