Miriam Makeba

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Miriam Makeba
Background information
Birth name Zenzile Miriam Makeba
Also known as Mama Africa
Born 4 March 1932
Prospect Township, Johannesburg
Gauteng, South Africa
Died 9 November 2008 (aged 76)
Castel Volturno, Italy
  • Marabi
  • World
  • Afropop
  • Jazz
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Actress
Years active 1953–2008
  • Manteca
  • Strut
  • RCA
  • Mercury
  • Kapp
  • Collectables
  • Suave
  • Drg
  • Warner Bros
  • Reprise
  • PolyGram
  • Stern's Africa
  • Kaz
  • Sonodisc
Associated acts
Website https://www.miriammakeba.co.za/

Miriam Makeba (born Zenzile Miriam Makeba; 4 March 1932 – 9 November 2008), also known as Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil-rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa.

Personal Life

Miriam Makeba had a brief and reportedly abusive marriage when she was 17 years old. Out of that marriage came her only child, this was in the 1950s. In the mid 1960s she was married to late musician Hugh Masekela.

Miriam Makeba's only child, Bongi Makeba, died during child birth in 1985. At the time of her death, Miriam Makeba had to grandchildren, Zenzi Lee and Lumumba Lee.


Miriam Makeba died of a heart attack on 9 November 2008 in Castel Volturno, Italy. She had travelled to that country to perform at a concert for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the Mafia. Miriam Makeba had reportedly performed for about an hour when she fell ill and was transported to the clinic in Castel Volturno where she suffered cardiac arrest.


  1. SA History, Miriam Makeba, 19 February 2019
  2. IOL, 10 things you may not have known about Miriam Makeba, 19 February 2019
  3. Last FM, Miriam Makeba, 19 February 2019
  4. All Music, Miriam Makeba Biography by Craig Harris , 19 February 2019
  5. Fembio, Miriam Makeba, 19 February 2019
  6. Cape Town Magazine, Rest in Peace Miriam Makeba, 19 February 2019
  7. News24, Who owns Miriam Makeba?, 19 February 2019
  8. Black History Heroes, Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba , 19 February 2019
  9. The South Africa, Miriam Makeba: Five fast facts about the Mama Africa songstress, 19 February 2019
  10. City Press/ News24, Miriam Makeba: Ugly legal battle spoils 10-year anniversary, 19 February 2019