The birthday of Miriam Makeba, the late singer and civil rights campaigner, has been commemorated with a Google doodle on her 81st birthday.
Miriam Makeba Short Biography:
Born in Johannesburg on March 4, 1932, Makeba gained initial fame in 1959 during a tour of the United States with South African group the Manhattan Brothers.
Makeba’s was a strong voice against her home country’s racist apartheid government. She ran afoul of the government in 1960 after she participated in Come Back, Africa, an anti-apartheid documentary, a year earlier.
Her subsequent exile, which lasted for nearly 30 years, did nothing to diminish her International renown though she would not return until after Nelson Mandela emerged from prison in 1990.
Five years after her exile, she would become the first woman of African heritage to have the honor of winning a Grammy Award, which she shared with Belafonte for An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. It was the first US-produced album to feature authentic Zulu and Swahili music, a milestone in the world music genre.
With a turbulent personal life contrasting the fame she had received as Mama Africa, she was divorced four times. Her first marriage was to trumpeter Hugh Masekelaand her most controversial one was to civil rights activist/Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, which led to her moving to Guinea.
She was responsible for popularising African music in the United States. With iconic traditional flowing gowns and hairstyles, she would belt out music that was richly flavoured by her African roots and childhood Jazz influences.
In 2008, after a concert in the southern Italian town of Caserta, Makeba, the first African woman to address the United Nations (where she testified against apartheid in 1963), passed away.
Miriam Makeba – Malaika (1969) Music Video
Miriam Makeba Quotes
“Girls are the future mothers of our society, and it is important that we focus on their well-being.”
“But if you are going to wear blinders then you do not know the world.”
“I look at an ant and I see myself: a native South African, endowed by nature with a strength much greater than my size so I might cope with the weight of a racism that crushes my spirit.”
“In the mind, in the heart, I was always home. I always imagined, really, going back home.”
“It’s a really unfair world because life is, where I am; all day long we listen to American music. So I don’t see why the radios in the U.S. cannot even put aside one hour a day just to play music that is not American.”
“You are damned and praised, or encouraged or discouraged by those who listen to you, and those who come to applaud you. And to me, those people are very important.”