Tribute to Miriam Makeba – South Africa’s first lady of song – by Nelson Mandela


Message from  Nelson Mandela on the death of Miriam Makeba.

The sudden passing of our beloved Miriam has saddened us and our nation. For may decades, starting in the years before we went to prison, MaMiriam featured prominently in our lives and we enjoyed her moving performances at home. Despite her tremendous sacrifice and the pain she felt to leave behind her beloved family and her country when she went into exile, she continued to make us proud as she used her worldwide fame to focus attention on the abomination of apartheid.

Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years. At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us. Even after she returned home she continued to use her name to make a difference by mentoring musicians and supporting struggling young women. One of her more recent projects was to highlight the plight of victims of land mines.

She was South Africa’s first lady of song and so richly deserved the title of Mama Afrika. She was a mother to our struggle and to the young nation of ours.

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.

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