Hundreds of South Africans over the weekend paid their last
respects to legendary singer Miriam Makeba widely known as “Mama Africa”. Makeba collapsed a week ago after a
performance in Italy and died of heart attack afterwards at a hospital. She was
In July 2004, Makeba spoke to VOA soon after the release of her new album “Reflections”. She first explained the inspiration behind the new
decided to call that because I wanted to do some of the songs that people here
at home never heard me do because of the fact that my music was banned. And so
I was reflecting on my musical past,” she said.
CD “Reflections” includes some of Makeba’s most popular hits like the Click
Song, I Shall Sing and Pata Pata. But she said was tired of Pata Pata.
time I do a recording the powers that be want Pata Pata. I said but how many
times shall I sing this one song. You know Pata Pata and the Click Song. I
really don’t know why people want this song. Since 1956 I’m singing this song,”
said while Pata Pata made many people world wide to know her music, she was
really introduced to Africa when she sang at the launching of the Organization
of African Unity in 1963.
Pata just made more people to know me. But to Africans really I was introduced
when I went to sing for the heads of state in Addis Ababa in 1963 at the birth
of the OAU (Organization of African Unity). That’s when African leaders
discovered Miriam Makeba and started inviting me to their country,” she said.
also reflected on her special connection to Liberia.
was invited many times to Liberia by Mrs. Tolbert (wife of former President
William Tolbert). Even before that by President Tubman and earlier there was a
nice lady who I took as a big sister to me, Sister Gertrude Brewer. She was
very nice to me. She even helped me with my grandchildren. So Liberia was
almost like home because it was closed to Guinea so I was going back and forth
from Guinea to Liberia,” Makeba said.
said she liked all her songs, but on the new album “Reflections” she liked
like all my songs, but you know on this one I try to sing some Brazilian songs.
So I like ‘Xica Da Silva’ one and then the African ones I like ‘Iyagoduza’.
It’s about a man who doesn’t work and his wife goes to work and he stays behind
searching money to go an drink,” Makeba said.
1963 Makeba testified before the United Nations about apartheid in her native
South Africa. For that, the apartheid South African government revoked her
citizenship and the right to ever return to South Africa.
Makeba said she felt terrible,
especially when she could not return to South Africa to bury her mother.