The 9th November marked the fifth anniversary of singer and civil rights activist, Miriam Makeba’s death. Makeba, affectionately referred to as ‘Mama Africa’, returned to South Africa in 1990, after having had her citizenship and ‘right of return’ revoked by the apartheid government in 1963. While Makeba may not have been known to many white people in South Africa, she was famous enough overseas, singing at John F Kennedy’s birthday party with Harry Belafonte in 1962. And whether the SA government liked it or not, her music was definitely popular – nearly 60 years after it was first written, the Pata Pata song still gets people on their feet! The Click Song, or Qongqothwane, was also made world famous by Makeba. The Xhosa song refers to the distinctive knocking sound a darkling beetle makes when it taps its abdomen on the ground. The beetle is believed by the Xhosa people to bring good luck and rain, and is also thought to point the way to a better future in times of trouble.
Makeba was one of the many people who helped to point South Africa towards a brighter future, and we thank her for it. Ngiyabonga Mama Africa!
Click here to read more about the fascinating life of one of Africa’s greatest artists.