Monday, 10 November 2008

Hamba Kahle, Mama Afrika

This morning, South Africa woke to the news that Miriam Makeba had died. Apparently she was taking part in a concert in Italy when she fell ill. She passed away a few hours later.

Miriam Makeba made her musical debut in the 1950s, at a time when the oppressive apartheid regime ruled the country with an iron fist. Before long, she moved to England, where she collaborated with artists such as Harry Belafonte, who helped her move to the US. Makeba was extremely unpopular in the eyes of the apartheid regime, and when she tried to return to South Africa to attend her mother’s funeral, she found her passport had been revoked. Three years later, the government also revoked her South African citizenship and her right to ever return to her country of birth. She was officially in exile. Her music was somewhat political in nature, and An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba (which was about the political plight of black South Africans) earned her a Grammy Award. Makeba testified at a special United Nations hearing about the atrocities of the apartheid regime in 1963. Much later, in 1986 she won the Dag Hammarskj√∂ld Peace Prize for her role as a delegate to the United Nations.

30 Odd years after being forced into exile, Nelson Mandela convinced her to come home to South Africa.

Mama Afrika (as she was fondly called) had a unique musical style. Her trademark song was Pata Pata, The Click Song (Qongqothwane in Xhosa) and it epitomises Makeba’s inimitable style. (Check it out on iTunes if you have the chance.)

Hamba Kahle
, Mama Afrika. Hamba Kahle.

1 comment:

Helmey said...


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