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Hundreds Attend Memorial for 'Mama Africa'


Hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service for South African recording star and anti-apartheid champion Miriam Makeba Saturday.

Poets and musicians performed tributes to the woman known as "Mama Africa" at the Johannesburg Dome, a popular venue for concerts.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe delivered a video message from the G-20 summit to an audience of mourners which included former president Thabo Mbeki.

Makeba collapsed from a heart attack seconds after leaving the stage after a concert in Italy on November 9. She died later at a hospital in Naples.

She was forced into exile in 1959 after appearing in an anti-apartheid documentary. Makeba did not return to South Africa until after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990. During that time, she became a leading voice against apartheid.

Makeba called for an international boycott of South Africa during testimony before a U.N. special committee against apartheid in 1963. The South African government responded by banning her records, including hits like "Pata Pata," "The Click Song" and "Malaika."

Makeba was the first African woman to win a Grammy - the music industry's highest award. She won a folk music award in 1965 for an album she recorded with Harry Belafonte.

Makeba was married to South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and later to U.S. black activist Stokely Carmichael. Her autobiography Makeba: My Story was released in 1988.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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