Issued by: ZM Makeba Trust and Siyandisa Music
10th November 2008
The world was dealt a blow early this morning, in a small town outside Naples, Italy when Zenzile Miriam Makeba..Mama Afrika to the world, passed away.. and left this earth, aged 76 years. She was born on 4th March 1932.
Whilst this great lady was alive she would say “I will sing until the last day of my life”
Zenzile Miriam Makeba collapsed on stage, at the end of her set, after singing Pata Pata,. She was immediately attended to by her grandson Nelson Lumumba Lee and others before being rushed to the nearest hospital. Tragically, in the early hours of this 10th of November 2008 morning, the doctors pronounced that they were unable to revive her.
Ambassador Makeba, was with her band, and was performing before an outdoor audience, in the open air at Via Verde, in the small town of Castelvolturno, not far from Naples. The audience included her long time friend, Italian promoter, Roberto Meglioli, who she had called on Friday from Holland, and asked to attend her show. He was on stage with her at the end of the show, and there she collapsed into his arms.
Dr Miriam Makeba never forgot her struggle through her life, and never stopped identifying with those who were downtrodden and who suffered. An activist to the end, the event where she was performing at, was an Anti-Racism and Anti-Mafia Event. “Mazi” as she was affectionately known by those who knew her well, never shied from speaking her mind and standing for her beliefs. She was an outstanding South African, a and indeed a gracious and true citizen of the World.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba is survived by her grandchildren Nelson Lumumba Lee and Zenzi Monique Lee, and her great- grandchildren Lindelani, Ayanda and Kwame. [http://www.miriammakeba.co.za/]
Miriam Zenzi Makeba was born in Johannesburg in 1932. Her mother was a Swazi sangoma and her father, who died when she was six, was a Xhosa. As a child, she sang at the Kilmerton Training Institute in Pretoria, which she attended for eight years.
Makeba first toured with an amateur group. Her professional career began in the 1950s with the Manhattan Brothers, before she formed her own group, The Skylarks, singing a blend of jazz and traditional melodies of South Africa.
In 1959, she performed in the musical King Kong alongside Hugh Masekela, her future husband. Though she was a successful recording artist, she was only receiving a few dollars for each recording session and no provisional royalties, and was keen to go to the US. Her break came when she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa in 1959 by independant filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. She attended the premiere of the film at the Venice Film Festival.
Makeba then travelled to London where she met Harry Belafonte, who assisted her in gaining entry to and fame in the United States. She released many of her most famous hits there including "Pata Pata", "The Click Song" ("Qongqothwane" in Xhosa), and "Malaika". In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba. The album dealt with the political plight of black South Africans under apartheid.
She discovered that her South African passport was revoked when she tried to return there in 1960 for her mother's funeral. In 1963, after testifying against apartheid before the United Nations, her South African citizenship and her right to return to the country were revoked. She has had nine passports,  and was granted honorary citizenship of ten countries.
Her marriage to Trinidadian civil rights activist and Black Panthers leader Stokely Carmichael in 1968 caused controversy in the United States, and her record deals and tours were cancelled. As a result of this, the couple moved to Guinea, where they became close with President Ahmed Sékou Touré and his wife. Makeba separated from Carmichael in 1973, and continued to perform primarily in Africa, South America and Europe. She was one of the African and Afro-American entertainers at the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman held in Zaïre. Makeba also served as a Guinean delegate to the United Nations, for which she won the Dag Hammarskjöld Peace Prize in 1986.
After the death of her only daughter Bongi Makeba in 1985, she moved to Brussels. In 1987, she appeared in Paul Simon's Graceland tour. Shortly thereafter she published her autobiography Makeba: My Story (ISBN 0-453-00561-6).
Nelson Mandela persuaded her to return to South Africa in 1990. In the fall of 1991, she made a guest appearance in an episode of The Cosby Show, entitled "Olivia Comes Out Of The Closet". In 1992 she starred in the film Sarafina!, about the 1976 Soweto youth uprisings, as the title character's mother, "Angelina." She also took part in the 2002 documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony where she and others recalled the days of apartheid.
In January 2000, her album, Homeland, produced by Cedric Samson and Michael Levinsohn was nominated for a Grammy Award in the "Best World Music" category. In 2001 she was awarded the Gold Otto Hahn Peace Medal by the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin, "for outstanding services to peace and international understanding". In 2002, she shared the Polar Music Prize with Sofia Gubaidulina. In 2004, Makeba was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans. Makeba started a worldwide farewell tour in 2005, holding concerts in all of those countries that she had visited during her working life. 
Her publicist notes that Makeba had suffered "severe arthritis" for some time.
On 9 November 2008, she became ill while taking part in a concert organized to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation. The concert was being held in Castel Volturno, near Caserta, Italy. Makeba suffered an heart attack after singing her hit song "Pata Pata", and was taken to the "Pineta Grande" hospital where it was impossible to revive her. In his condolence message, former South African president Nelson Mandela said it was “fitting that her last moments were spent on a stage, enriching the hearts and lives of others - and again in support of a good cause.”
- Miriam Makeba: 1960
- The Many Voices Of Miriam Makeba: 1960
- The World Of Miriam Makeba: 1962
- Makeba: 1963
- Makeba Sings: 1965
- An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba (with Harry Belafonte): 1965
- The Click Song: 1965
- All About Makeba: 1966
- Malaisha: 1966
- Miriam Makeba In Concert!: 1967
- Pata Pata: 1967
- Makeba!: 1968
- The Promise: 1974
- Country Girl: 1975
- Pata Pata: 1977
- Sangoma: 1988
- Welela: 1989
- Eyes On Tomorrow: 1991
- Sing Me A Song: 1993
- A Promise: 1994
- Live From Paris & Conakry: 1998
- Homeland, 2000
- Keep Me In Mind, 2002
- Live at Berns Salonger, Stockholm, Sweden, 1966: 2003
- Reflections, 2004
- Makeba Forever, 2006 (last recording)
- The Queen Of African Music - 17 Great Songs, 1987
- Africa 1960-65 recordings, 1991
- Eyes On Tomorrow, 1991
- The Best Of Miriam Makeba & The Skylarks: 1956 - 1959 recordings, 1998
- Mama Africa: The Very Best Of Miriam Makeba, 2000
- The Guinea Years, 2001
- The Definitive Collection, 2002
- The Best Of The Early Years, 2003
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