Accessibility links

Breaking News

South Africa Officially Mourns 'Mama Africa'

South Africa has opened a period of official mourning for legendary singer and anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba.

She died Monday of a heart attack in Naples, Italy, after collapsing on stage while giving a concert for an Italian writer who faced death threats.

Thursday, flags began flying at half-staff on government buildings across South Africa and at South African diplomatic missions around the world. Books of condolences have been opened in Pretoria and Cape Town.

The government says the national mourning will continue until Makeba's funeral and cremation, which has yet to be scheduled. Her body was flown back to Johannesburg on Wednesday.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said Makeba made the world a better place for everyone.

Nicknamed "Mama Africa", Makeba was exiled for much of her life from her native South Africa, where she returned as a hero in the 1990s after Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.