Folk singer, Miriam Makeba, died at age 76 early Monday in Southern Italy after a performing at a concert against organised crime and racism. Spokespeople from the Emergency Room at Pineta Grande Clinic, A private facility at Castel Volturno confirmed that she was brought there from the concert.
ANSA news reported that she succumbed to a heart attack 30 minutes after the show, in which she showed solidarity toward Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who had received death threats following on his book, Camorra, which discusses the crime syndicate in the Naples area.
“It’s a monumental loss not only to South African society in general, but for humanity,” said Department of Arts and Culture spokesperson Sandile Memela.
Miriam Makeba or Mama Afrika, as she was affectionately known, was born in Johannesburg on 4 March 1932. The daughter of a Swazi mother (sangoma) and a Xhosa father. She shot to fame in the late 50’s and the 60’s with a documentary (Come Back, Africa) and winning a Grammy working with Harry Belafonte.
She left South Africa in 1959 and spent more than 30 years in exile, becoming known as an anti Apartheid activist in the process. In 1960 when her mother died she tried to return to South Africa for the funeral, but was denied access to the country as her passport had been revoked. Some of her marriages were to Stokely Carmichael (American Civil Rights Activists) as well as Jazz legend Hugh Masekela.