The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116063   Message #2489586
Posted By: Pauline L
10-Nov-08 - 03:16 AM
Thread Name: Obit: RIP Miriam Makeba (10 November 2008)
Subject: RIP Miriam Makeba
Miriam Makeba, the South African folksinger and anti-apartheid activist, has just died of a heart attack at the age of 76. Fittingly, she died at the end of a concert against organized crime in which she had sung. Here is the article from the Associated Press.

Activist-Singer Miriam Makeba Dies in Italy at 76

ROME – Miriam Makeba, the South African folk singer and anti-apartheid activist fondly known as "Mama Africa," died early Monday in southern Italy after performing at a concert against organized crime, hospital officials said. She was 76.

The emergency room of the Pineta Grande Clinic, a private facility in Castel Volturno, near Naples, confirmed Italian news reports that the singer had died after being brought there.

The ANSA news agency reported that Makeba apparently suffered a heart attack just at the end of the concert, where she had sung for about 30 minutes to show solidarity for Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who received death threats after writing a book about the Camorra, the Naples-area crime syndicate.

The news of Makeba's death caused shock and grief in South Africa.

Arts and Culture Ministry spokesman Sandile Memela described her as an international icon.

"It's a monumental loss not only to South African society in general but for humanity," he said.

Tributes poured in on morning radio talk shows for the woman who wooed the world with her sultry voice and soft eyes and who was exiled from her homeland for more than 30 years.

Makeba first came to international prominence when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary "Come Back, Africa" in 1959. In 1960, when she tried to fly home for her mother's funeral, she discovered her passport had been revoked.

In 1963, she appeared before the U.N. Special Committee on Apartheid to call for an international boycott on South Africa. The South African government responded by banning her records, including hits like "Pata Pata," "The Click Song" ("Qongqothwane" in Xhosa), and "Malaika."

In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for "An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba." The album dealt with the political plight of black South Africans under apartheid.

She only returned to her homeland with the crumbling of apartheid in the early 1990s.

"It was like a revival," she said. "My music having been banned for so long, that people still felt the same way about me was too much for me. I just went home and I cried."