File picture of Miriam Makeba. Picture: ANA/Archives
File picture of Miriam Makeba. Picture: ANA/Archives

10 things you may not have known about Miriam Makeba

By Carmelita Fredericks Time of article published Nov 9, 2018

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Ten years after her death, Mzansi honoured musical legend Miriam Makeba with tributes on social media. 

Fans, celebrities and organisations paid tribute to Mama Afrika, as they recalled her life and musical career on Twitter.

Makeba died of a heart attack during a 2008 concert in Italy. 

Here are 10 things you may have not known about Makeba.

  1. She spent the first six months of her life in jail after he mother was arrested for selling a homemade beer.
  2. She had a brief and allegedly abusive first marriage at the age of 17, gave birth to her only child in 1950.
  3. She began her music career singing for her cousin’s band, the Cuban Brothers, but it was only when she began to sing for the Manhattan Brothers in 1954 that she began to build a reputation. 
  4. She was exiled in 1960 from South Africa because of her music and her strong beliefs against the apartheid. . Being exiled she was unable to attend her mother’s funeral. 
  5. In 1963, she testified about apartheid at the United Nations and her South African citizenship was taken away from her.  She lived in the US thereafter and her records were banned in South Africa.
  6. She moved to New York City, where she became immediately popular and recorded her first solo album in 1960. Her career flourished in the States, with her most popular being "Pata Pata" (1967).
  7. She was married to Hugh Masekela in the mid-1960s
  8. In 1985, she lost her only child, Bongi, who died during childbirth.
  9. After Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he persuaded Makeba to return to South Africa. She lived in exile for 31 years.
  10. She is a breast and cervical cancer survivor. 

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