It was many years ago that I first heard the name Miriam Makeba. I learned of her struggles and musical talent after listening to Paul Simons 1986 release of the Graceland album. After listening to the album, I had to buy the video concert that was taped on VHS tape, that included her singing in this concert. If you have not seen or listened to it, it truly is an amazing work of musical art. Ladysmith Black Mombazo and Hugh Masekela, along with many others, were also featured in this concert. Miriam Mekeba, also known as Mama Afrika, had been exiled from her homeland for approximately 30 years, starting in 1960, during the apartheid system that was in place at that time in South Africa. In 1990, as the apartheid system began to crumble, she returned to Johannesburg for a homecoming celebration. Miriam Mekeba sang beautiful songs about her homeland, culture and roots. Yesterday while singing in a concert in Italy, Miriam Makeba collapsed on stage and died at the age of 76.
As reported today in the International Herald Tribune......Nelson Mandela said that the death "of our beloved Miriam has saddened us and our nation."
He continued: "Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years. At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us."
"She was South Africa's first lady of song and so richly deserved the title of Mama Afrika. She was a mother to our struggle and to the young nation of ours"
Although I did not know her personally, I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn about her thoughts and feelings from her music.
For more information about Miriam Mekeba, please read the following article from the International Herald Tribune... http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/10/africa/obits.php