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Miriam Makeba Passes Forward at 76

By Africa Speaks Reporters
November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba 2006
Miriam Makeba 2006
Miriam Makeba, the South African singer who wooed the world with her powerful voice and messages of freedom and justice died after collapsing on stage in Italy. She was 76 years old.

Affectionately called Mama Africa, she was the voice of the resistance movement against Apartheid in South Africa. Her many songs were powerful reminders of the atrocities committed against Black South Africans and embodied the struggles for freedom, justice and equality in South Africa. She was banned from returning to South Africa after going abroad and it would be 30 years until she would be able to return home. In that time, she collaborated with other great musicians such as Harry Belafonte and Hugh Masekela as she continued to sing songs of freedom and justice that drew attention to the Apartheid system.

Miriam Makeba had strong links to the Caribbean and other parts of the African diaspora. In 1968, Miriam Makeba married Trinidad Black Power advocate Kwame Ture resulting in her tour of America being cancelled. She would journey to Trinidad in 2006 to participate and perform in Trinidad's Emancipation Celebrations. The 74 year old Grammy Award winning vocalist, Miriam Makeba, rocked the house from the time she arrived on stage until the end of the concert. The Queen from the Continent sang favourites such as, "Africa Is My Home", "Nkosa", "Malaika, Sindiza Ngecadillacs", "Laku Tshoni 'Ilanga", "Intandane" and "Pata Pata". Although sung in her native tongue, Makeba was still able to move the Jean Pierre Complex crowd like the wind moves the sea. This internationally renowned and loved South African singer also shared the stage with her back-up singers showcasing the young talent of the African Continent.

Well known all around the world, Mariam Makeba will live on through such legendary songs as "Pata Pata", "Lumumba", "Piece of Ground", "Africa is Where My Heart Is", "Gone Are My Children", "Malaika" (Angel), "I Long to Return", "Nonngongo", "Africa" and "Soweto Blues".

Three Queens Emancipation Concert
Miriam Makeba at the Three Queens Emancipation Concert
in Trinidad and Tobago on July 31, 2006