In Africa we call her "Mama Africa" because she was our mother and friend. She united the entire continent of Africa through music and introduced African music to the rest of the world. She had the voice of an angel and sang the beautiful songs of Africa with pride and dignity. She was never carried away by money and she was never carried away by fame. She was born to do what is right and although she was born into poverty, managed to accomplish all her dreams through hard work and dedication. She wasn't born with silver spoon in her mouth yet died leaving treasured boxes of gold and silver in the hearts and souls of several people around the world. She was banned from the land of her fathers but that did not stop her why because the entire world came to her rescue. They thought they were making her homeless but the world became her home.
"I always wanted to leave home. I never knew they were going to stop me from coming back. Maybe, if I knew, I never would have left. It is kind of painful to be away from everything that you've ever known. Nobody will know the pain of exile until you are in exile. No matter where you go, there are times when people show you kindness and love, and there are times when they make you know that you are with them but not of them. That's when it hurts".
Miriam Makeba spent her early days as an infant in jail for a crime she knew nothing about. She was just eighteen days old but poor Miriam had to spent the first 6 months of her life in jail why because her beloved but poor mother Nomi Christina Jele (a herbalist /traditional healer) was caught selling umqombothi (a homemade African beer brewed from malt and cornmeal) and was sentenced to jail just 2 weeks after poor Miriam was born. Poor Miriam had to go to jail with her mother. Miriam Makeba's father Caswell Mpambane Makeba (a Xhosa working-class man) passed away when Miriam was just 6 years old but her poor but hardworking mother Christina continued to labor even harder so as to cater for young Miriam and her 5 siblings.
We call her Mama Africa because she was a queen amongst queens. We call her Mama Africa because she was the mother of all mothers and we could tell just by hearing her sing. She was the first female to popularize African music around the globe. Miriam Makeba even performed at John F Kennedy's (the 35th President of the United States 1961-1963) birthday party in 1962. Miriam performed with great world known artists such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon and Hugh Masekela (Masekela was Miriam's first husband). Other husbands included Stokely Carmichael, a leading member of the American Black Panther movement.
Miriam Makeba as I mentioned earlier on was a freedom fighter and a major peace figure who spoke against several wrongs in our society including apartheid. Because of her fighting nature and outspokenness, the Apartheid South African government at the time, cancelled her passport to prevent her from returning to South Africa her homeland from her overseas travels in 1960. Miriam Makeba was able to return home after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.
The life of Miriam Makeba was full of so many obstacles but Mama Africa did not give up. She moved on from greatness to greatness until she passed away in 2008 at the age of 76.