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Miriam Makeba: The Voice Of 'World Music'


Africa and the world grieved earlier this year when Miriam Makeba died. She was 76 and created world music before the term was used. She was born in Johannesburg but left for Britain because in the days of apartheid, black singers could not keep the money they earned. She tried to return to South Africa for her mother's funeral in 1960 but was refused entry. Miriam Makeba lived in exile for the next 30 years but was made an honorary citizen of 10 different countries and campaigned tirelessly against apartheid, becoming one of the voices of Africa and of conscience.

She returned to South Africa in 1990 at the personal request of Nelson Mandela. No matter where she sang around the world - and she died while singing at an anti-organized crime rally in Italy - Miriam Makeba was known around the world as Mamma Africa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.