Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa, The pride of Africa

Miriam Makeba born and raised in South Africa suffered a lot of racism and was against Apartheid. Miriam stood against the policies of apartheid and conveyed her feeling through her music and songs. Miriam was a gifted singer and she bought the African nativity into her songs. Although she was in exile for almost ten years she never forgot Africa and has always highlighted Africa. Miriam has done number of works for peace.

Miriam Makeba was born to Swazi Sangoma (mother) and Xhosa (father) on 4th of March. Her mother was an herbal healer. Miriam's mother was arrested for selling some kind of African alcohol and wad put in prison for six months. Miriam therefore was in jail in her early six months life. Miriam's father died when she was six months old. Miriam attended school only for eight years and she used to sing in the choir.

At the age of eighteen years in 1950 she got married to her first husband James Kubey and a child was born out of the marriage. Miriam's child was named Bongi Makeba. Miriam suffered domestic violence and her husband also had an affair with Miriam's sister.

Miriam was later diagnosed with breast cancer and then she left her husband. In the year 1950 she started her singing career with a group called Manhattan Brothers. Later she formed her own band exclusively with ladies called "The Skylarks". In the year 1956 she released her single song "Pata Pata" which was a major hit in South Africa.

In the year 1959 Miriam was married for second time with an Indian Descent man named Sunny Pillai How ever this marriage also did not last long. In the same year she acted in a movie called "Come back, Africa" made by an American director. Though her role was small Miriam was appreciated a lot and that bought her into the limelight. The movie was against apartheid.

In the same year she also visited London, where she met singer Harry Belafonte. With his help Miriam was able to get into USA. In the year 1960 Miriam's Mother died and Miriam was in USA. Miriam wanted to attend her mother's funeral but she came to know that the African government cancelled her passport. She was forced to live in exile for 10 years. In the same year Miriam released her first Album "Miriam Makeba". The album was an instant and major success.

In 1960 Miriam was open about her opinion that she was against Apartheid. This resulted in the annulment of her right to return to Africa. Several countries like Guinea, Belgium and Ghana came forward to offer her their country's citizenship. Throughout her lifetime Miriam held nine international passports. Miriam was in fact a World citizen.

Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa, The pride of Africa.
(Image source : Wikipedia, Licensed under Share Alike 3.0 attribution).

In the year 1963 few nicknames were given to Miriam such as "Mama Africa" and "Empress of African songs"

In 1964 Miriam was married third time to Masekela. This marriage lasted for two years. Miriam and Harry Belafonte released an album called "An evening with Makeba/Belafonte". The album was against apartheid. The album got great reviews and was a success. Miriam even won a Grammy Award for "Best Folk song". From then Miriam rose to fame.

Miriam then recorded songs like"The click song" and "Malaika". Both the songs were success. Though Miriam was a successful woman she disliked wearing makeup or styling her hair. Miriam liked wearing her native, look during concerts which gave rise to a new trend called the"Afro look". In the year 1964 the song"Pata pata" was re released in USA which was also a hit.

In 1968 Miriam married Stokely Carimichael. This was her fourth marriage. He was a civil rights activist and was a "Black Panther". Miriam's marriage created a lot of controversy due to which they decided to move to Guinea. Mr.Ahmed Sekou Toure, The president of Guinea became close friend to the couple. Sometime later she was became an ambassador for the United Nations and performed her duties well. Miriam held the same position twice. In the year 1986 Miriam won the Dag Hammarskjold Peace Prize.

Miriam continued recordings and stage performances in several countries, but her personal life was in turmoil. By the year 1973 Miriam separated from her husband and by the year 1978 she divorced her husband.

Miriam was married for the fifth time to an airline executive in the year 1980. In 1985 Miriam suffered a personal tragedy of losing her daughter due to childbirth complications. Later Miriam shifted to Brussels.

Miriam gave several concerts in Harare, Zimbabwe. Miriam released an album 'Isangoma" which she dedicated to her mother. Miriam wrote her autobiography "Makeba: My story" which was well received and was later translated into many languages.

In the year 1990 Miriam's ban on entering her homeland South Africa was lifted on the occasion of Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday. Miriam recorded another album "Eyes on tomorrow" and also acted in a movie "Sarafina".

United Nation's "The Food and agriculture organization" voted Miriam for the "Goodwill Ambassador" in the year 1999. In 2000 Miriam released her album Homeland which won her another Grammy Award for "Best world music".

In 2001 Miriam was rewarded the" Otto Hahn Peace Medal" award and she also won the "Polar Music Prize". In 2004 Miriam was listed in the "Top 100 Great South Africans".

Miriam suffered a major heart attack on 9th of November 2008 in Italy after giving a performance and died in a hospital at the age of 76.

Many concerts were held in honor of Miriam and a movie was made as a homage to her titled "Mama Africa: Celebrating Miriam Makeba" by a Finland director Mika Kaurismäki.

Google's doodle homepage was created as a mark of respect for Miriam on 4th of March 2013.


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