In the 1960s, long before anyone ever heard of “World Music,” a young South African artist by the name of Miriam Makeba made us fall in love with the music of her continent. Known throughout the world as Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba collapsed and died on Monday just after leaving a concert stage in Italy. I am glad she lived to see the United States, a country where she lived and performed for many years, just days before turn a corner on race.
Miriam Makeba has a special place in the hearts and lives of so many of us she inspired then and continued to inspire through the many dark decades she fought for freedom through song and example. This is a long (15 minute) clip from a joint 1987 appearance with Paul Simon in Zimbabwe while she was still a political exile. They sing a lovely duet to conclude but there is much music to precede it, including Soweto Blues, written by her former husband Hugh Masakela. At this point the 1976 Soweto uprising was still fresh. You can read about it here. So many heroes. And she was one.
RIP, Mama Africa: