Born in South Africa on 4 March 1932, Makeba was a remarkable singer, and fiery civil rights activist.
Makeba was born in a township suburb of Johannesburg, and she undoubtedly remains one of the finest voices the world of song has ever heard, and she surely ranks among the most popular artists in South Africa’s music history.
Makeba started her musical career in the early 1950s, and she was part of various musical acts (singing with Manhattan Brothers and later the Sunbeams also known as Skylarks), and she build a strong reputation as a talented singer. She toured with the jazz-influenced musical King Kong, (1959) which consolidated her reputation as one of the best voices in the music industry.
She was the first black musician to be forced to leave South Africa because of apartheid, and she first stayed in Europe before eventually settling in America.
While in America Makeba made contact with other South African artists in exile who included Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa. She went on to work with various American artists on successful musical projects throughout the years until her return to South Africa after spending 30 years in exile.
During her 30 years in exile she remained a vocal opponent of apartheid and dedicated her life to fighting inequality, injustice, and racism through her music. Makeba embodied the spirit of Pan Africanism, and yearned for an equal, peaceful, democratic and united South Africa and continent.
Mama Africa has over 40 albums (studio albums, live albums and compilations) to her name. She won several national (South African Music Award) and international awards for her musical accomplishments including a Grammy award. Makeba was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.
She passed away in 2008 at the age of 76.
We remember this legend through her music, which undoubtedly left an indelible mark.