Zenzile Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa. She died of a heart attack during a 2008 concert in Italy, aged 89.
About Miriam Makeba in brief
Zenzile Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa. Born in Johannesburg to Swazi and Xhosa parents, Makeba was forced to find employment as a child after the death of her father. She had a brief and allegedly abusive first marriage at the age of 17, gave birth to her only child in 1950, and survived breast cancer. Her vocal talent had been recognized when she was a child, and she began singing professionally in the 1950s, with the Cuban Brothers, the Manhattan Brothers, and an all-woman group, the Skylarks. She moved to New York City, where she became immediately popular, and recorded her first solo album in 1960. She married Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Black Panther Party, in 1968. After apartheid was dismantled in 1990, she returned to South Africa and continued recording and performing, including a 1991 album with Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie. She was named a UN goodwill ambassador in 1999, and campaigned for humanitarian causes. Makeba died of a heart attack during a 2008 concert in Italy, aged 89. She received a Grammy Award for her 1965 album An Evening with BelafonteMakeba. Her most popular song was \”Pata Pata\”. Along with Belaconte she received a Oscar nomination for Best Song for An Evening With BelacuseMakeba in 1965.
She also received an Emmy Award for Best Original Song for the film Come Back, Africa, which she co-wrote and co-starred in with her husband Hugh Masekela. She wrote several songs critical of apartheid, and became a symbol of opposition to the system, particularly after her right to return was revoked. She testified against the South African government at the United Nations and became involved in the civil rights movement. She brought African music to a Western audience, and popularized the world music and Afropops genres. She died in Italy in 2008, aged 90, and was remembered by former South African President Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest musicians of all time. She is survived by her three children and two step-daughters, all of whom are still living in the U.S. and South Africa, as well as a step-great-granddaughter, and a great-grandson, Zainab Makeba. She left behind a husband and a son, the late Michael Makeba; her daughter, Michael, is now a successful business executive and philanthropist. She has a daughter and a grandson, both of whom live in New York, New York and London. Her son Michael is a well-known South African businessman and former president of the African Development Bank. Her daughter, Zineba, is married to former President Jacob Zuma. Her grandson, Michael Zuma, is also a prominent South African politician and former ANC leader.