Miriam Makeba, South African singer, Died at 76

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Dead, Zenzile Miriam Makeba on the 9th of November 2008 at the age of 76, she was a South African singer and civil rights activist.

Born in Johannesburg on the 4th of March 1932, her mother was a Swazi sangoma (traditional healer-herbalist).

Her father, who died when she was six years old, was a Xhosa.

When she was eighteen days old, her mother was arrested for selling umqombothi, an African homemade beer brewed from malt and cornmeal.

Her mother was sentenced to a six-month prison term, so Miriam spent her first six months of life in jail.

Nicknamed Mama Africa, she is best known for the song “Pata Pata”, first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967.

She recorded and toured with many popular artists, such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and her former husband Hugh Masekela.

Her professional career began in the 1950s when she was featured in the South African jazz group the Manhattan Brothers, and appeared for the first time on a poster.

She left the Manhattan Brothers to record with her all-woman group, The Skylarks, singing a blend of jazz and traditional melodies of South Africa.

As early as 1956, she released the single “Pata Pata”, which was played on all the radio stations and made her name known throughout South Africa.

In 1962, Makeba performed at the birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy. In 1965, she and Belafonte released the album An Evening with Belafonte & Makeba, which includes two duos by the musicians: “Train Song” and “Cannon.” The album earned Makeba and Belafonte a Grammy Award for best folk recording in 1966.

In the mid-1980s, Makeba met famed American musician Paul Simon. In 1987, she and Simon performed together as part of Simon’s incredibly famous Graceland tour.

The tour focused attention on apartheid in Makeba’s homeland, where she would eventually return, encouraged by Nelson Mandela after his release from prison in 1990.

In the mid-1980s, Makeba met famed American musician Paul Simon. In 1987, she and Simon performed together as part of Simon’s incredibly famous Graceland tour.

The tour focused attention on apartheid in Makeba’s homeland, where she would eventually return, encouraged by Nelson Mandela after his release from prison in 1990.

When Makeba played at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in 1985, it was her first appearance in Britain for 11 years, and also her 53rd birthday.

There she replied to the criticism that she had turned her back on the west and had gratuitously insulted white people, notably some unfortunate teachers in Jamaica who had suffered an unjustified, personal attack while watching her perform: “People have accused me of being a racist, but I am just a person for justice and humanity.

People say I sing politics, but what I sing is not politics, it is the truth. I’m going to go on singing, telling the truth.” When her beloved daughter Bongi died after a traumatic miscarriage that year, Miriam succumbed to a kind of “spiritual madness” that she believed she had inherited from her mother.

The following year she was awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld peace prize for her campaigning efforts.

Many younger South Africans had no idea who Makeba was or what she had struggled for on their behalf. Nonetheless, when she announced her retirement in 2005, she found that she was still popular abroad: “Everyone keeps calling me and saying ‘you have not come to say goodbye to us!'”

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