Miriam Makeba dies in Italy

One of the most venerated of all World Music stars, Miriam Makeba, has died aged 76. She had not long finished a concert in Caserta, Italy on behalf of investigative journalist and author Roberto Saviano (threatened with death by the Neapolitan Camorra mafia after writing an expose) when she became ill and subsequently died of a heart attack in a clinic in Castel Volturno near Naples.

Makeba, often referred to as “Mama Africa” was one of South Africa’s greatest musical exports (and exiles) with a career spanning from the 1950s to the present day. However hand-in-hand with her musical achievements she will be forever associated with the anti-apartheid struggle. She was forced into a 31 year exile soon after starring in the 1959 documentary “Come Back, Africa” about the South African situation and was then unable to return home until after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990.

Makeba was the first black African woman to be awarded a Grammy (Best Folk Recording) which she shared with Harry Belafonte for the album “An Evening with Belafonte and Makeba”. Whilst in exile in the US she wrote her most famous hits Pata Pata, Malaika and The Click Song.

She was married first to South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela and, after their divorce, to Stokely Carmichael the American civil rights activist.