Miriam Makeba, "Mama Africa" 1932-2008

Yesterday, the world lost one of its leading songstresses. Ms. Miriam Makeba died after performing a concert in Italy, apparently of cardiac arrest. Known as Mama Africa, Makeba was treasured by her South African brothers and sisters and music lovers all over the world. I luckily had the chance to hear Ms. Makeba perform in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, she sang a few songs on stage at Manenberg's after a concert by another fantastic artist, Ali Farka Toure'. As luck would have it, I happened to be at Manenberg's that night - I went over there after work to catch a drink, and the place was packed. Luckily I had "connections" and was able to come in the back. I saw two musical legends perform that night. It was an amazing evening. To be honest, I had no idea who she was until someone explained it to me later that evening. I was on the dance floor having a great time, and the crowd parted to let a woman in a bright yellow shirt through. I was dancing up a storm, and she started to dance with me. At the end of the song, she gave me a hug. One of the waiters said to me, "You just hugged Miriam Makeba!" To prove that it happened, check out this brochure from Manenberg's released shortly after the concert (click on the photo to see it larger):

I'm on the cover in the yellow shirt. Ms. Makeba is in the center top frame in a yellow shirt herself. You can see the top of my head in the photo, too :-)

I also saw her perform at the Cape Town Jazz Festival in 2006. I feel very lucky to have seen this amazing musical legend twice in my life. She will be greatly missed by so many people all around the world. Here's to you, Mama Africa!