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Miriam Makeba

Makeba, Miriam (məkāˈbə) [key], 1932–2008, South African singer. She became the first black South African to achieve international fame and she played a fundamental role in introducing African music to the West. Exiled from South Africa in the early 1960s because of her outspoken political views, she settled in the United States, where she was celebrated both as a performer and as a symbol of opposition to apartheid. South African music formed the heart of her large and varied repertoire during a career that began in the 1950s and spanned five decades. Her 1960s hits included "The Click Song" in her native Xhosa language and the dance tune "Pata Pata". Makeba's first husband was Hugh Masekela. Following her marriage to the black militant leader Stokely Carmichael, she was declared unwelcome by the U.S. government and moved to Guinea (1969–84). She returned to her homeland after Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

See her autobiography (1988); Makeba: The Miriam Makeba Story (interviews, 2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: Popular and Jazz: Biographies


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