Monday, November 10, 2008
This is a live performance on Brazilian TV from 1966 by the great South African artist, Miriam Makeba. This was the song that was miraculosly an International hit in 1965. Radios all over the planet were blasting the Johanesburg Township Funk of Pata Pata!
Miriam was born in 1938 and was a succesful recording artist along with Hugh Masekela in South Africa. She came to the United States with the help of Harry Belafonte who helped her get a real record deal and recorded a Grammy winning album duet with her in 1966. She became a political figure and heroically opposed apartheid on South and sunsequently found that her passport was revoked and she could not re enter Souuth Africa for almost 35 years. She spoke against apartheid at the UN and in retaliation, South Africa revoked her citizenship. She was granted citizenship and passports by 10 other countries in protest!
Miriam became involved with radical black politics in the United States in the 1960's and married Stokely Carmichael in 1968. This was quite controversial and she found her concerts in the USA often cancelled. Miriam and Stokely moved to Guinea in Africa and they separated in 1973.
Makeba continued to perform in Africa, South America and Europe and recorded continuosly. She performed at the Ali/Foreman Rumble in the Jungle concert and then with Paul Simon in his Graceland Concert.
She remained active in African politics and became Guinea's ambassador to the UN in 1986 and won the Dag Hammarskjold Peace Prize.
In 1990, newly elected South African President, Nelson Mandela gaved her back her citizenship and asked her to come back to South Africa. She starred in the film Sarafina and recorded the 2000 Grammy Award winning Album, Homeland.
In 2005, she expressed the desire to retire, but kept performing farewell concerts and appearing at political concerts to support causes she believed in.
Last night, near Caserta, Italy, while performing at a concert for Roberto Saviano, the anti Mafia activist and author of the book and movie, Camora, she suffered an onstage heart attack and died shortly after.
A powerful, tireless voice for the cause of human rights world wide has been silenced.
Nelson Mandela said, "It is fitting that Makeba died doing what she loved best, singing."