Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Miriam Makeba, 1932-2008

Mama Afrika, they called this brave, gifted thrush. Born of a Swazi mother and a Xhosa father, she came to the U.S. in 1959 under the patronage of Harry Belafonte and won a Grammy with her homeland repertoire. When she testified against apartheid at the United Nations, the South African government revoked her citizenship. Married to South African cornetist and composer Hugh Masekela, then to the Trinidad-born U.S. civil rights militant Stokely Carmichael, Makeba kept singing around the world until Nelson Mandela called her back home in 1990, paying tribute to an artist-agitator who put her continent's struggle into song.

Richard Corliss

See pictures of the Civil Rights movement from Emmett Till to Barack Obama.