Miriam Makeba is one of the women I’ve illustrated as part of my portrait series of iconic women. Often, when I’m exhibiting at fairs, people don’t who she is so, I thought I’d share some info.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba.
Johannesburg, 4th March 1932.
Singer and civil rights activist.
Early facts I didn’t know until writing this:
Makeba spent her first six months of life in jail – her mother was sentenced for selling a homemade beer, umqombothi (remember the Yvonne Chaka Chaka song?).
She gave birth to her only child, Bongi at 18 and soon after was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Popularised African music around the world, in the 1960s; Grammy Award winner; Dag Hammarskjöld Peace Prize winner and more.
Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, Hugh Masekela and more.
Makeba was married to musician Hugh Masekela and to Black Panther Stokely Carmichael.
She actively campaigned against apartheid and as a result the South African government revoked her citizenship in 1963. She lived in exile and returned to South Africa in 1990.
Over her lifetime, Makeba held nine passports and was granted honorary citizenship in ten countries
Despite her star status in the US (and I imagine, the expectations that came with it), Makeba refused to we are makeup and curl her hair.
“Pata Pata” and a rendition of the classic song written and first recorded by Kenyan musician, Fadhili William, “Malaika”.
My favourite Makeba song:
"Qongqothwane" (also known as “The Click Song”). When I was younger and my father would play Makeba, the intro to this song would (and still does) bring me so much joy – along with trying to get the click right (still trying). I also love “Kilimanjaro” which, Shingai Shoniwa/Noisettes has done a cover of. See the videos below (if you’re on a reader and can’t see them, go here).
NB I used Wikipedia as my source
- TGIF! Classic African Tunes – Souther African Edition
- African Album Art – Mama Africa has inspired some beautiful album cover art
- Interview with music-maker Zaki Ibrahim – this SA native shares her plans to create a feature film loosely based on Makeba’s life
- TGIF! with Ntjam Rosie – this songstress cites Makeba amongst her inspirations (check out Ntjam Rosie’s interview too)
Don't miss an installment – different ways to get your Afri-love delivered. You can also stay up to date by liking the Afri-love Facebook page or following Afri-love (@afrilove) on Twitter or on Google+.
Check out my many Africa-related Pinterest boards covering the arts, design, music and more.
Subscribe for fortnightly updates with Afri-love highlights and developments, as well as info on interesting events, must-reads and more for you to check out elsewhere.