Jazz Festival Pays Tribute to Late South African Singer Miriam Makeba

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival took place late last month and played out to a sold-out crowd of more than 30 000 people. The festival featured 41 bands performing on five stages over the two nights. This year’s festival also featured a special “Tribute to Mama Africa” – to remember the music of Miriam Makeba.



The Cape Town International Jazz Festival celebrated its 13th year at the city’s International Convention Centre.  It included a number of renowned American musicians such as James Ingram, Patti Austin, Lenny White, Allen Stone, Lauryn Hill and more. South African artists ranged from Hugh Masekela, Zahara, Lindiwe Suttle; Dorothy Masuka, Adam Glasser and Herbie Tsoaeli to name a few.

South African musician Hugh Masekela
South African musician Hugh Masekela

Trumpeter and singer Hugh Masekela, who also performed last year, teamed up with three South African vocalists - Vusi Mahlasela, Thandiswa Mazwai, and Zolani Mahola - to present a musical tribute to the late African songstress Miriam Makeba.

Hugh Masekela was the tribute's musical director.

"Two or three years ago," he said, "we were playing at a South African festival in Toulouse in France. There was a cross-section of South African artists for the whole week, and they asked if we could put an impromptu tribute to her [Makeba]. So we rehearsed it on the afternoon of the performance and it just took the whole place by storm. Then there were requests for it all over Europe."

After France, they toured Barcelona, London and Berlin, to sold-out shows, in 2011. This year was the first year the tribute to Miriam Makeba came to South Africa.

"The very first person to really bring South Africa to the world’s attention was Miriam Makeba,"  said Masekela. "She invented us most musicians of today. She gave her life and a very lucrative career to talk about the struggles of Africa.

"She raised money for liberation movements of schools, she sent me to school, she started  [the careers of South African musicians] Caiphus, Jonas Gwangwa’s and Letta Mbuli’s in the United States. There can never be another person like Miriam Makeba! Miriam Makeba is not only the patron saint of Africa, but there is no one individual that ever did as much for Africa as Miriam Makeba did."

The tribute covered Makeba’s classics like "Soweto Blues", "Meet Me at the River", "Pata Pata" and many more. Crowds who had packed the Kippies auditorium at the festival sang along to almost all the Makeba renditions.

This year's Cape Town International Jazz Festival included a tribute to "Mama Africa", the late legendary singer Miriam Makeba
This year's Cape Town International Jazz Festival included a tribute to "Mama Africa", the late legendary singer Miriam Makeba

Vusi Mahlasela is a South African musician who sings in various languages and formed part of this group paying tribute to the legendary performer.

"Miriam did quite a lot of things for us here in South Africa," he said, "especially connecting with the world and also was able to embrace that spirit of Ubuntu [“humanity” or “sharing”], by learning other people’s languages and even to sing their languages as well. I got quite a lot of inspiration from that. We have that African idiom that says: ‘motho ke pulelo’ – meaning ‘a person is a language’ and she did that and that is what I am also choosing that in my work – singing in various languages and all."

Miriam Makeba passed away on the 10th of November 2008. She last performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2006 as part of her Grand Finale Tour.

The Tribute to Mama Afrika wowed crowds also audiences at the Jazz Festival and is set to continue touring across the world, celebrating the life of Miriam Makeba.


This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs