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SA bids farewell to Ma Makeba

by Proffesor Ndawonde
on 16 Nov 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Hundreds of mourners arrived at the Coca Cola Dome in Northgate on Saturday to say their last goodbyes to Miriam Makeba, who died in Italy after a performance there last Sunday.

Described as a cultural icon of awesome proportions, Miriam Makeba's memorial service saw tearful politicians, celebrities, friends, family and fans gather in front of a large screen exhibiting her work.

Among those who attended the memorial service were Deputy President Baleka Mbete and former President Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe and Minister of Social Development Zola Skweyiya.

President Motlanthe, who was attending the G-20 Summit in Washington and unable to be there in person, said in a special video message that Ma Makeba was a mother, grandmother, sister and friend to many in South Africa and the world.

He said many among them had been unsure of how to react to the news of her death.

"We are hurt that her exceptionally creative impulses will no longer nourish us with beautiful compositions," he said, adding that her music was adored across the world because of the meaningful lyrics, impassioned music and messages of peace and love.

"Her music was a language of universal appeal, touching people across different nations."

Mr Motlanthe said she sang from the very depths of her heart, which in turn struck a chord deep down in our souls. "While we should celebrate the life she lived, we should equally ask ourselves what abiding qualities we can learn from her rich and meaningful life," said the President.

Upholding the values she embodied is the best way to pay homage to her. "Her life should continue to inspire all of us; artists and non-artists alike, to strive for excellence and to uphold good values.

"As she crosses over to the other side, Miriam Makeba will find musicians she performed with from the dusty townships of South Africa; percussionists and guitarists from Guinea Conakry and great Jazz musicians from the US such as Dizzy Gillespie.

"I am certain that Miriam Zenzile Makeba is going to join many great African artists. Let the show go on!"

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said Ma Makeba, known to many as Mama Africa, was now Mama Heaven and that her spirit would always be remembered.

She described the 76-year-old Mama Africa as an artist, humanitarian, activist and an extraordinarily gifted performer who dedicated her life to the fight against apartheid.

Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan said the sudden death of the outstanding African performer was a great loss to South African music and the culture of the country.

"Miriam Makeba was, essentially an African creation who won a place in the global village, thanks to her talent and magnificent voice," he said.

Hugh Masikela, Ma Makeba's former husband and producer, said she was a lovely and humorous person who was committed to her work. "We will remember her voice and her exceptional talent. She was a maestro in the industry and that is why her work was pleased by the world at large."

Ma Makeba's 14-year-old great grandchild Lindelani Lee managed to lighten the atmosphere when he joked about how she had declared her identity while was in exile in America.

"She had said, 'Even if you think my 'click-click' song sounds bad, I will continue sing it because it because it is original. I am from South Africa.'"

Lindelani said even though her grandmother had passed away, her spirit would live on.

Mara Louw, Mama Africa's best friend, Afro-Pop artists Lira, Zamajobe, Thandiswa Mazwai were among those who wept openly during the exhibit of Mama Africa's work and her performances.

Tributes and condolences poured in from around the world and many world leaders and celebrities last week.

Spokesperson for the Makeba family, Thabo Mudau told BuaNews that Ma Makeba's body would be cremated during a private ceremony on Sunday. Her ashes are to be scattered along the African coast.

"They will be thrown to the sea from the Cape Point in Cape Town to Mozambique, Namibia and between Europe and Africa," said Mr Mudau. - BuaNews


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