A Salute to Honor Miriam Makeba – Mama Africa

An inspirational woman who was exiled from the wrongs of apartheid South Africa and went on to receive a Grammy for Best Folk Recording, be a delegate to the United Nations, continue to work as a human rights activist, and be known for her goodwill. Miriam Makeba suffered a heart attack while performing “Pata Pata” in a human rights concert in Italy. She died the next day,November 10, 2008, at the age of 76.  Miriam married four times. She had one daughter, Bongi Makeba, and two grandchildren.


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Events in Her Life

  • In 1959, she performed with her future husband Hugh Masekela in the King Kong musical.
  • In London she met Harry Belafonte who was instrumental in gaining her entry and exposure in the United States. Together they released An Evening with Belafonte / Makeba, an album about the treatment of native South Africans under apartheid.
  • In 1963, Makeba testified before the United Nations Committee Against  Apartheid causing her citizenship and right to return to be revoked. Her music was banned in apartheid South African.
  • She married civil rights activist and Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael. Her record deals and tours were cancelled in reaction to this marriage.
  • In 1985, Makeba’s daughter dies.
  • In 1986, Makeba won the Dag Hammarskjold Medal.
  • In 1987, Makeba toured with Paul Simon and published her autobiography My Story.

A segment of the poem written by Dr. Don Mattera  in honor of Miriam Makeba’s appointment as South Africa’s Ambassador to the African Continent in 2003.

This song,
This fragment of a nation rejoicing
This eulogy of love for a revered Matriarch,
Is for you, Miriam Makeba
Voice of Africa’s vision and its deepest dreams

We salute you fairest African Queen
You, who wept against the indifferent moon,
traversing the shores of strange lands
standing attention to foreign flags
alienated, tolerated nomad of the struggle
Marching to the sound of distant drums
Sleeping in the dark folds of an exiled sunset
Waking in glow of a challenging day
You, Miriam, broke bread with revolutionaries
And was honored by kings

Ambassador,
Let your sterling voice speak
For all the nations of the Earth,
Speak for Africa’s people
Hapless and hesitant, though they stand
At the portals of a New Beginning,
A moment of Resurrection and Renewal;
Speak as only you can speak
From the deep sap of your beautiful being.

Makeba, we love you…

2 Responses to “A Salute to Honor Miriam Makeba – Mama Africa”

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