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November 10, 2008


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Remember Mama Africa


Time Magazine - Monday, Feb. 01, 1960

The trouble is that she wants to go home—home being a four-room house in Mofolo Village, a South African "location" (Negro reservation) outside Johannesburg. "Down there, if you aren't white, you may be a star, but you're still a nothing," she admits. "But I still want to go home."
Singer Miriam Makeba, a Xosa tribeswoman… is probably too shy to realize it, but her return to Africa would leave a noticeable gap in the U.S. entertainment world, which she entered a mere six weeks ago. Miriam Makeba, 27, has had no formal musical training, and a few years ago she still earned her living as a housemaid in Johannesburg, but she is the most exciting new singing talent to appear in many years...
The little girl from Prospect Township is making $750 a week, which could be eight years' rent for a native family in Johannesburg. RCA Victor is planning to record her songs. But Miriam wants to go home.

Time Magazine, Feb. 29, 1960

I want to tell you how happy I was with the article in the Feb. 1 issue [SHOW BUSINESS]. It was very gratifying.
I did notice that there was a slight error, which I do not think you will mind my calling attention to. It concerns my African name, and if I may, I would like to spell it correctly for you.
Zenzile Makeba Qgwashu Nguvama Yiketheli Nxgowa Bantana Balomzi Xa Ufun Ubajabulisa Ubaphekcli Mbiza Yotshwala Sithi Xa Saku Qgiba Ukutja Sithathe Izitsha Sizi Kkabe Singama Lawu Singama Qgwashu Singama Nqamla Nqgithi.
The reason for its length is that every child takes the first name of all his male ancestors. Often following the first name is a descriptive word or two, telling; about the character of the person, making a true African name somewhat like a story. This may sound most unusual to Americans, but it is the custom of my people.

¶ Freely translated, the descriptive word or two in Miriam Makeba's name say: "There is a saying that after dinner, the Xosa kick the dishes."—ED.

May. 1, 1964

Married. Miriam Makeba, 32, gaunt South African Xosa tribeswoman whose plaintive folk chants have made her a top U.S. nightclub and recording star; and Hugh Masekela, 25, South African trumpeter and her arranger; she for the third time; in Stamford, Conn.

May. 3, 1968

Married. Stokely Carmichael, 26, Black Power firebrand; and Miriam Makeba, 36, South African singing star, who met Stokely in 1960 during a U.S. tour; he for the first time, she for the third; in Washington, D.C.

May 31, 1968
Tricked out in gaudy tribal trappings, Black Power Warrior Stokely Carmichael, 26, and Click-Singer Miriam Makeba, 36, celebrated their recent marriage at a reception held in Mount Vernon, N.Y., by Akili Danieli, Tanzanian Ambassador to the U.N. Married secretly about a month ago in Washington, D.C., the couple canceled their plans for a mammoth reception because of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. Now the newlyweds have little time for honeymooning. Miriam went to South America for a monthlong concert tour; Stokely holed up in Washington and let the world know that Black Power machinations and marriage were not mutually exclusive pursuits. "My wife," he said, "has already been a freedom fighter."

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