Tribute to Miriam Makeba

Like Nelson Mandella, like Desmond Tut, like Martin Luther King, Jr., like Sojourner Truth…there is only one Miriam Makeba.

“Mama Africa” won a Grammy Award for “the Click song” (a Xhosa wedding song), so unique to western ears, that made her famous in the United States. But in South Africa she was more than a performer. She was a Civil Rights activist, a national hero, who paid a high price in the movement to end Apartheid and bring majority rule to her South African homeland. Her passport was cancelled. Her music was banned from being played or bought in South Africa. She was in exile for 30 years. There is nothing more dangerous than a human voice, and the South African regime knew it. Like Pete Seeger, whose “God’s Countin’ on Me” was posted here yesterday, Miriam was a voice of hope in the struggle for racial justice all over the world. She died at the age of 76 while performing in Italy on November 10, 2008.

Thank you, Miriam Makeba. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Rest in Peace.

5 thoughts on “Tribute to Miriam Makeba

  1. Mid 1960s… the Hungry I in San Francisco. A table full of USAF airmen, …and we were there for her. How’s that for some good Air Force buddies? The Hungry I offered one of the earliest radio talk shows broadcast live… by one Ira Blue. I was a dedicated listener. One sponsor was Tillamook cheese of Oregon. I never stopped using it. Ira must have been a great humanitarian… or I would not have listened, would I? Barbara Streisand, the Kingston Trio… Mort Sahl, Shelly Berman, Prof. Irwin Corey, Woody Allen, the Limelighters… played at the Hungry I. Now it’s a strip club. Those were the years when I realized a great education was available by radio. I never gave up radio either. Needless to say Makeba knocked me out. I also saw Nina Simone there. I have adored her most of my life. She sang a tragic song, “Strange Fruit” and something about “My father promising Paris.” When my daughter was in Paris for a year, my Brit. friends delivered that recording to her. Jeez these wonderful artists, Pete Seeger, Makeba, Oddeta, … and Larry Long! Gordon, do you remember Malvina Reynolds? (Little Boxes, God bless the grass, Turn Around, Bury me in my overalls.) I adored her too. She provided me with years of education… talking on public radio from Berkeley. -When I looked up Pete Seeger yesterday, I found his old TV show. There he was singing with Malvina, and Buffy St.Marie. What a beauty of YouTube …preserving these things. I have my own box full of historic recordings that I better start working on… like Larry Long and his beautiful wife dancing to Cajun music outside the Baton Rouge state house with a pack of Russian visitors. Again, thanks for keeping us all thinking Gordon.


    • Bob, Great memories you have. So many interesting people from the Hungry I and elsewhere in your travels. I confess to not remembering the name Melvina Reynolds, but I certainly know the songs. I’ll see if I can find the youtube with Melvina and Pete and Buffy St. Marie.

      Thanks, as aleays.


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