Pretoria - An Intergenerational dialogue took on Friday the 90th birthday of the late Dr Miriam Zenzile Makeba at Unisa, in partnership with the Miriam Makeba Foundation.
In attendance were her contemporaries and fellow legendary musicians such as Abigail Kubeka, Marah Louw and Tu Nokwe, and young artists Siphokazi, Ntsikwane and Mandisa Vundla.
Her great-grandchild Lindelani Makeba Lee said the celebration was of huge significance to the family and an opportunity for the legend to be remembered for what she stood for.
Makeba Lee said: “She always said if you want to know where you are going you need to know where you come from. I think for us as creators our identity has always been our greatest strength, and finding it to infuse it with our art. That is what makes us special.
“One of the reasons why she was able to see such success was because she did not compromise her art.”
Makeba Lee said to keep her memory and legacy alive, they were getting more involved in Miriam Makeba’s Centre for Girls and renovating it to accommodate more young women.
“Mama Makeba was a champion for young women’s rights and for their protection, safety and education. What we are doing is to make sure that it never dies.”
These areas intersect with Makeba’s legacy on issues of dispute resolution in African contexts.
The performances were indeed a celebration of Makeba. The Miriam Makeba Foundation said she left a legacy of compassion, love and truth.
All the speakers emphasised how Makeba had humanity and fought for what she believed in.
They also spoke of her love for music through which she campaigned against inequality and segregation in South Africa.
Siphokazi said she was one of those who had been inspired by Makeba’s music.
“One fact about Mam Miriam is that she could not be boxed in in terms politics, music and socials.
“There are so many things we can talk about her, she was very forgiving,” she said.
Siphokazi said she only met Makeba for just over a minute and felt her warmth.
“When we met, she was very busy and I think we only spoke for over a minute and I could feel the warmth and love that she had for people and shy as she was looking and reserved, she was a very fierce activist.
“She fought for the black people and I regard her as an advocate for the liberation of black South African people.”
Makeba died in 2008 after suffering a heart attack.
She received a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and the French Legion of Honour.
Makeba was banned from South Africa in 1960 and lived in exile for 30 years.