Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A Legendary Voice of Africa now Silent
A powerful beauty, a strong presence, an endearing heart...
Miriam Makeba was more than the voice of "Pata Pata" or the "Click Song". She was an activist, a witness that did not let her country be broken by Apartheid and its ravages.
She spoke out, she denounced, she protected and , yes, she sang. But in exile or on tour, she always made the choice of fighting first and be pleasant later. Not that she wasn't charming. No, on the contrary, she had an innocent, demure but regal disposition that made the world adopt her as their own when she was banned from her own country after being a bit too vocal in her criticism of the South African regime and starring in the anti-apartheid movie "Come Back Africa"that was presented at the Venice Film Festival in 1959.
The United States had a love hate relationship with her. They love her at first when her action had no national impact on the very apartheid like condition of race relation in the country. Then, they hated her, because of all the men in America, she chose to marry Stokely Carmichael, Mr. Black Panther himself. Both became persona non grata in the States, of course, and a bit of a "Juif Errant" figures.
Nonetheless, Makeba divorced Carmichael, lost her daughter and came back to South Africa in the 90', after Nelson Mandela invited her back. She fought for many causes, received Peace Prizes after Peace Prizes and made her dream come true. To sing until the day she dies. And I am sure that even after death, since she is such a force of nature, she will become a song of strength and beauty to many all around the world for many generation to come.