Tag Archives: Guinea

Amilcar Cabral (37) Quotes from Revolution in Guinea


Amilcar Cabral‘s 37 quotes appear at the end of this article. Therefore, if you are familiar with his work and accomplishments, please feel free to skip this introduction to the legend. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the life and work of Amilcar Cabral, I have put this intro together to contextualise his words and thoughts.

His full name was Amilcar Lopes da Costa Cabral. His nom de guerre was Abel Djassi. Some of the names sound Portuguese. That was the case. Cabral rose to prominence in the liberation struggle against Portugal’s colonisation of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.

Picture of Amilcar Cabral with the quote,

The people of Portuguese colonised Guinea took up arms to free their country from colonial domination in 1963 under the leadership of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde [PAIGC].

At the time Cabral was both the founder and the Secretary-General of the PAIGC, including the small group that formed the original core of the Party.

Cabral became aware and conscious of the wretched conditions his people were living in while working as an agricultural engineer for the government of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde Islands.

His job involved travelling around the country and meeting people. From 1952 – 54, Amilcar Cabral had visited every corner of his country, preparing an agricultural census for the colonial administration.

This gave him unprecedented contact with the people and provided him with the opportunity to understand the problems the people faced and an intimate knowledge of the local terrain.

The detailed knowledge he acquired of his people and their situation provided the basis for the PAIGC’s revolutionary strategy.

Guinea did not have the necessary elements on which revolutionary movements in Europe and Asia had based their respective revolutions.

They didn’t have a large proletariat. There was no developed working class. There was no large peasant class deprived of land ownership: colonial exploitation in Guinea was executed via price mechanism rather than by land ownership.

Therefore, a successful revolutionary struggle could not be based on any wholesale adoption of other revolutionary experiences or strategies.

Picture of AmilcarCabral in contemplation. The superimposed quote reads, “Learn from life, learn from our people, learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning.”

They needed a strategy based on African conditions; more specifically, on conditions within Guinea and Cape Verde.

Cabral was central to the creation of these revolutionary elements, creating the theory and articulating it to Party members, locals and others outside the borders of Guinea and Cape Verde.

Cabral weighed up the revolutionary potential of each group within his society. Thus the PAIGC began its long, patient process of clandestine political preparation in 1959.

The gravity of Cabral’s political theory grew way out of proportion to the size of Guinea when compared to Africa and its influence on the liberation movements on the continent.

Cabral’s political and revolutionary analyses extended way beyond the borders of Guinea and Cape Verde.

The clear, down to earth terms in which the terms were articulated and were put to use influenced many revolutionary movements all over the world. This includes revolutionary movements in Europe and Asia.

His theory and political analysis illustrate the importance of the need to study one’s own concrete conditions and to make the revolution according to those particular conditions, rather than relying on the experience of others, as valuable as it may be.

In addition, his revolutionary strategy was centred around the mobilisation of the people around practical material issues rather than indulging in vainglorious theoretical and ideological ideals.

It is absurd therefore to find African revolutionary movements or revolutionaries who swear blindly that they are Marxists, Maoists, Leninist‘s, Sankarists, etc. or a blend of all the aforementioned schools of thought.Picture of Amilcar Cabral with his comrades in military fatigues and carrying rifles. The quote by Amilcar cabral superimposed on the picture reads, “We must practice revolutionary democracy in every aspect of our Party life. Every responsible member must have the courage of his responsibilities, exacting from others a proper respect for his work and properly respecting the work of others. Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies wherever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”

Cabral was deeply influenced by Marxism but he was not a Marxist. However, he became an inspiration to national liberation movements and revolutionary socialists worldwide.

This was partly due to his brilliant scholastic ability to reinvent a new ideological school of thought, that took the works of Lenin and Marx and made them relevant to the realities Africa was facing at that time.

Probably, his latter day equivalent was the late Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara.

He was also influenced by Marxism and was a committed revolutionary, Pan Africanist theorist, feminist, revolutionary icon, anti-imperialist activist and the former leader of Burkina Faso.

Cabral’s legacy today is undisputed. He is revered as one of the greatest anti-colonial and anti-imperialist leaders of the twentieth century. He is remembered as a brilliant, devoted and fearless revolutionary.

He is acknowledged as the architect and mastermind behind the drive to liberate Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde from the inequity of Portuguese colonialism.

It is fitting though that today we keep the flame burning for one of Africa’s greatest revolutionary theorist,  guerrilla fighters, an inspiring agitator, and an uncompromising internationalist.

We have a lot to learn from his methods and theory because the ideas set out in Revolution in Guinea transcend time and geographical boundaries or locations.

His ideas are probably more relevant to us Africans than Marxism is today because his ideas grew out of an analysis of the African situation and conditions in comparison to Marx whose analysis was based exclusively on Europe.

Amilcar Cabral’s legacy continues to inform the global struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism while advocating for socialism.

His words, thoughts and ideas remain relevant in the struggle to eliminate oppression and exploitation and restoring humanity to all dehumanised people worldwide.

I have no intention of providing an in-depth analysis of this great visionary here today. That is the stuff for another day and article. In the meantime, enjoy his words, thoughts and ideas.

Closeup picture of Amilcar Cabral in a suit, seated and reading with his glasses on his forehead. He is in a hall. The superimposed text fron his quote reads ‘An African saying very popular in our country says: “When your house is burning, it’s no use beating the tom-toms.” On a Tricontinental level, this means that we are not going to eliminate imperialism by shouting insults against it. For us, the best or worst shout against imperialism, whatever its form, is to take up arms and fight. This is what we are doing, and this is what we will go on doing until all foreign domination of our African homelands has been totally eliminated.’ Taken from the book Revolution in Guinea by Amilcar Cabral.

  1. Let us be precise: for us, African revolution means the transformation of our present life in the direction of progress. The prerequisite for this is the elimination of foreign economic domination, on which every other type of domination is dependent.
  2. We are for African unity, on a regional or continental scale, inasfar as it is necessary for the progress of the African peoples, and in order to guarantee their security and the continuity of this progress.
  3. In relation to Africa, we are for fraternal collaboration between the African peoples, against narrow nationalisms which do not serve the true interests of the people.
  4. We are sure of the solidarity of all the African peoples in our struggle. We conscious of the fact that our struggle for national liberation does not only serve our own peoples: it also serves the fundamental interests of all peoples of Africa and of the world.
  5. Our struggle has lost its national character and has moved onto an international level. The struggle taking place in our country today is the struggle of progress against misery and suffering, of freedom against oppression.
  6. It is on basis of this universal principle that we would like to express our firm conviction that our struggle is for peaceful coexistence and peace.
  7. To coexist one must first of all exist, so the imperialists and the colonialists must be forced to retreat so that we can make a contribution to human civilization, based on the work, the dynamic personality and culture of our peoples.
  8. To make this contribution in independence, fraternity and equality with all peoples, it does not seem to us to be necessary to get involved in the ideological disputes and conflicts which are splitting the world. Picture of Amilcar cabral staring into space. Amilcar Cabral's quote in the picture reads, “Educate ourselves, educate other people, the population in general, to fight fear and ignorance, to eliminate little by little the subjection to nature and natural forces which our economy has not yet mastered. Convince little by little, in particular the militants of the Party, that we shall end by conquering fear of nature, and that man is the strongest force in nature.”
  9. We do not need to follow any line: our position must be and remain based on the fundamental aspirations of our people.
  10. We consider that when imperialism arrived in Guinea it made us leave history – our history.
  11. For a revolution to take place depends on the nature of the party (and its size), the character of the struggle which led up to liberation, whether there was an armed struggle, what the nature of this armed struggle was and how it developed and, of course, on the nature of the state.
  12. As you can see, it is the struggle in the underdeveloped countries which endows the petty bourgeoisie with a function; in the capitalist countries the petty bourgeoisie is only a stratum which serves, it does not determine the historical orientation of the country; it merely allies itself with one group or another.
  13. So that to hope that the petty bourgeoisie will just carry out a revolution when it comes to power in an underdeveloped country is to hope for a miracle, although it is true that it could do this.
  14. I think one thing that can be said is this: the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie is honest; ie in spite of all the hostile conditions, it remains identified with the fundamental interests of the popular masses. To do this it may have to commit suicide, but it will not lose; by sacrificing itself it can reincarnate itself, but in the conditions of workers or peasants. In speaking of honesty I am not trying to establish moral criteria for judging the role of the petty bourgeoisie when it is in power; what I mean by honesty, is total commitment and total identification with the toiling masses.
  15. Neocolonialism is at work on two fronts – in Europe as well as in the underdeveloped countries. Its current framework in the underdeveloped countries is the policy of aid, and one of the essential aims of this policy is to create a false bourgeoisie to put brakes on the revolution and to enlarge the possibilities of the petty bourgeoisie as a neutraliser of the revolution.
  16. You must analyse and study these movements and combat in Europe, by all possible means, everything which can be used to further the repression against our peoples. I refer especially to the sale of arms. Picture of Amilcar cabral smiling and wearing glasses and a hat. The quote in the picture reads, “For us, there is always armed struggle. There are two kinds of armed struggle: the armed struggle in which the people fight empty handed, unarmed, while the imperialists or colonialists are armed and kill our people; and the armed struggle in which we prove we are not crazy by taking up arms to fight back against the criminal arms of the imperialists.”
  17. Moreover, you must unmask courageously all the national liberation movements which are under the thumb of imperialism.
  18. If we are fighting together, then I think the main aspect of our solidarity is extremely simple: it is to fight – I don’t think there is any need to discuss this very much.
  19. In any struggle it is of fundamental importance to define clearly who we are, and who is the enemy.
  20. We are from the part of Africa which the imperialists call Black Africa. Yes, we are Black. But we are men like all other men. Our countries are economically backward. Our people are at a specific historical stage characterised by this backward condition of our economy. We must be conscious of this. We are African peoples, we have not invented many things, we do not possess today the special weapons which others possess, we have no big factories, we don’t even have for our children the toys which other children have, but we do have our own hearts, our own heads, our own history. It is this history the colonialists have taken from us. The colonialists usually say that it was they who brought us into history: today we show that this is not so. They made us leave our history, our history, to follow them, right at the back, to follow the progress of their history. Today, in taking up arms to liberate ourselves, in following the examples of other peoples to liberate themselves, we want to return to our history, on our own feet, by our own means and through our own sacrifices.
  21. Our national liberation struggle has a great significance both for Africa and for the world. We are in the process of proving that peoples such as ours – economically backward, living sometimes almost near naked in the bush, not knowing how to read or write, not having even the most elementary knowledge of modern technology – are capable, by means of their sacrifices and efforts, of beating an enemy who is not only more advanced from a technological point of view but also supported by the powerful forces of world imperialism.
  22. We should consider ourselves as soldiers, often anonymous, but soldiers of humanity in the vast front of struggle in Africa today.
  23. We are fighting for the complete liberation of our peoples, but we are not fighting to simply hoist a flag in our countries and to have a national anthem.
  24. We do not confuse exploitation or exploiters with the colour of men’s skins; we do not want any exploitation in our countries, not even by black people… Picture of Amilcar Cabra in a suit and glasses. There are several quotes on the page. The main one reads,
  25. In Africa we are all for the complete liberation of the African continent from the colonial yoke, for we know that colonialism is an instrument of imperialism. So we want to see all manifestations of imperialism totally wiped out on the soil of Africa…
  26. In Africa, we are all for African unity, but we are for African unity in favour of African peoples. We consider unity to be a means, not an end. Unity can reinforce and accelerate the reaching of ends, but we must not betray the end. This is why we are not in a hurry to achieve African unity. We know that it will come, step by step, as a result of the fruitful efforts of the African peoples. It will come at the service of Africa and of humanity.
  27. In the CONCP we are firmly convinced that making full use of the riches of our continent, of its human, moral and cultural capacities, will contribute to creating a rich human species, which on turn will make a considerable contribution to humanity. But we do not want the dream of this end to betray in its achievement the interests of each African people.
  28. We are willing to join any African people, with one condition: that the gains made by our people in the liberation struggle, the economic and social gains and the justice which we seek and are achieving little by little, should not be compromised by unity with other peoples. That is our only condition for unity.
  29. In Africa, we are for an African policy which seeks to defend first and foremost the interests of African peoples, of each African country, but also for a policy which does not, at any time, forget the interests of the world, of all humanity. We are for a policy of peace in Africa and of fraternal collaboration with all peoples of the world.
  30. We reserve the right to make our own decisions, and if by chance our choices and decisions coincide with others, that is not our fault.
  31. You understand that we are struggling first and foremost for our own peoples. That is our task in this front of struggle.
  32. We are with the Blacks of North America, we are with them in the streets of Los Angeles, and when they are deprived of all possibility of life, we suffer with them. An illustration of Amilcar cabral with the quote “But let us prepare ourselves too, each day, and be vigilant, so as not to allow a new form of colonialism to be established in our countries, so as not to allow in our countries any form of imperialism, so as not to allow neo-colonialism, already a cancerous growth in certain parts of Africa and of the world, to reach our own countries.”
  33. We strongly support all just causes in the world, but we are reinforced by the support of others.
  34. We know that all the African peoples are our brothers. Our struggle is their struggle. Every drop of blood that falls in our countries falls also from the body and heart of our brothers, these African peoples.
  35. It is our peoples who guarantee the future and certainty of our victory.
  36. It is the struggle which makes comrades which makes companions, for the present and for the future.
  37. The enemies of the African peoples are powerful and cunning and can always count on a few faithful lackeys in our country, since quislings are not a European privilege.

I hope you enjoyed Amilcar Cabral’s quotes above and learned something that will enrich you in many ways. You can check out quotes here by Steve Biko, Kwame Nkrumah and Thomas Sankara.

In conclusion, keep an eye open for the review of Revolution in Guinea by Amilcar Cabral coming soon.

Aluta Continua! Revolutionary Love!

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Filed under Amilcar Cabral, Famous Qoutes, Great African Leaders

Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba, A Revolutionary Musician


Picture of Miriam Makeba

She was affectionately known as Mama Africa: her real name was Miriam Makeba. She was a South African musician. She was a revolutionary. And with music as her weapon of choice, she bravely fought against Apartheid, bringing the plight of millions of black South Africans to the collective consciousness of the world.

This poignant quote of hers encapsulates Miriam Makeba:

I look at an ant and I see myself: a native South African, endowed by nature with a strength much greater than my size so I might cope with the weight of a racism that crushes my spirit.

The picture she painted comparing herself to an ant is very apt. She was a young, charismatic, vivacious and beautiful black woman who appeared  fragile, but beneath her vulnerable exterior, she was extremely resilient.

She had to be to bear the burden of white racism and apartheid that from her birth, had done everything to reduce her to a non-being. This formed her anti-racism attitude. It made her aware of white injustice from an early age.

Miriam Makeba meme image

Makeba came from humble roots. She was born on the fourth of March 1932. Her mother was a Swazi sangoma (a traditional African healer).

I remember her saying in one of her interviews that she inherited her ability to heal with music from her mother who healed with herbs.

Her father was a Xhosa; he died when she was six years old. Eighteen days after her birth, her mother was arrested for selling umqombothi, an African traditional beer brewed using cornmeal and malt. It was illegal to brew and sell this homemade beer.

Her mother spent six months in prison together with Miriam Makeba. The experience left an indelible mark on her. The music she would make decades later would be grounded in the life and struggle of her people.

In a nutshell, it was social commentary capturing the many facets of life for Africans living in the townships of Apartheid South Africa.

Music was part and parcel of her formative years. She sang in the choir of Kilmerton Training Institute in Pretoria. It was a primary school she attended for eight years.

Makeba had her only child at the age of eighteen in 1950. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. Her first husband, James Kubay, left her then.

Pic of Miriam Makeba

Her singing skills were honed in the 1950s when she was a part of the Manhattan Brothers, they sang African jazz. However, the union didn’t last.

She left soon after to sing with her all-woman group, The Skylarks. Their music was a concoction of Jazz and traditional South African melodies.

Pata Pata which she released in 1956 catapulted her to the top. It was written by a fellow Southern African musician and friend of hers: Dorothy Masuka came from Zimbabwe, then known as Southern Rhodesia. The song was played on all radio stations and made Makeba into a household name.

A few years later, she appeared on an anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa, produced and directed by American filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. The viewers response was awesome and Rogosin secured her a visa to attend the twenty-fourth Venice Film Festival in Italy.

It won the Critics Award. It opened up new vistas for her. She suddenly found herself in the lead female role in King Kong, the Broadway-inspired South African musical.

She later met the charismatic musician and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte on her travels in London. He was instrumental in helping her secure entry to the United States. He was equally instrumental in helping her rise to fame in the US.

Picture of Harry Belafonte with Miriam Makeba

Harry Belafonte was instrumental in paving Miriam Makeba’s rise to fame and entry in the US.

However, disaster struck. Her mother passed away. On her attempts to return, she discovered her South African passport had been cancelled. The injustice radicalised her; it strengthened her resolve to fight apartheid.

She buried herself into her music and signed with RCA Victor. She released her first U.S. studio album. She named it Miriam Makeba. About two years later, she sang with Belafonte at John F. Kennedy’s birthday party at Madison Square Garden.

However, she didn’t attend the after party because she was not feeling well. Kennedy insisted on meeting her so Belafonte arranged a car to pick her up.

Three years after her first studio album, she released the second, The World of Miriam Makeba.

It peaked at number eight-six on the Billboard 200. However, her fight with Apartheid regime was raging in the background. Months later, she appeared at the United Nations to testify against apartheid.

The Apartheid regime retaliated: they revoked her citizenship and right to return to her motherland. She was left country-less. However, good fortune followed in her footsteps. There were no shortages of countries willing to serve Mama Africa.

Ghana, Guinea and Belgium stepped up and offered her international passports putting Apartheid South Africa to shame. From that point, she became a citizen of the world. The world was dying to own this African songbird.

She held nine passports in her lifetime and was granted honorary citizenship in ten countries. That was ironic for a person rejected by her country because she dared to speak against the Apartheid regime’s inhumane treatment of her people.

Her life was one of lifetime struggle.

She married another musician, Hugh Masekela, in 1964. They first met on the set of King Kong where Masekela was a member of the cast. However, it was short lived. They divorced two years later.

That same year in 1966, Miriam Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording for her collaboration with Harry Belafonte for An Evening with Belafonte/ Makeba.

Cover of An Evening With Belafonte/ Makeba

The album that netted Makeba’s Grammy for Best Folk Music Award with Harry Belafonte.

The album focussed on the plight of black South Africans under Apartheid. It set new ground blending Zulu, Sotho and Swahili songs in an authentic setting. Her fame was growing.

She went on to release some of her most memorable and popular songs in the US such as Malaika and the Click Song [Qongqothwane in Xhosa].

One often overlooked aspect of Miriam Makeba is her rebellious spirit. She had an iron will. She was unconventional.

At a time when many artists and women were embracing huge wigs and white standards of beauty, Makeba embraced her African roots.

She was a bonafide star but she shunned makeup. She refused to curl her hair for shows. She was a forerunner of what many would term the “Afro look”. It is such an absurd misnomer. She was simply being herself and looking the way God created her, black and beautiful.

Her stance confounded critics. The media didn’t know how to pigeonhole her. Trouble and controversy surrounded her because of her maverick ways. But her star quality was undeniable.

She released Pata Pata in the US in 1967 and it became an instant hit sending her reputation even higher.

However, the following year she married a young radical who was a member of the Black Panther Party, and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee leader.

Picture of Miriam Makeba and Stokely Carmichael

Miriam Makeba’s marriage to Trinidad born Stokeley Carmichael caused a lot of controversy. It was the beginning of a huge fallout with power brokers in the musical industry.

His name was Stokeley Carmichael. He would later change his name to Kwame Ture. His name was an amalgamation of Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Toure‘s name and surname.

The marriage caused huge controversy in the United States because Carmichael was a civil rights activist and considered too much of a radical because of his advocacy for self defence against state brutality in the US.

The power brokers and gatekeepers of the music industry reacted by cancelling her record deals and tours. It cost her a fortune. But she remained steadfast and refused to have the music industry define who she could love. She stood by her man and her decision.

Picture of Miriam a Makeba with Stokeley Carmichael

Consequently, the couple bid farewell to America and relocated to Guinea where President Ahmed Sekou Toure welcomed them with open arms. Guinea was home to Makeba for fifteen years. It became her home away from home.

The couple were close to the president and his wife Andree. Stokeley worked closely with the president while Makeba was appointed Guinea’s official to the United Nations. This was a public relations coup for Toure.

Miriam Makeba was rewarded with the Dag Hammarskjöld Peace Prize in 1986 for her new role. Her marriage to Carmichael lasted until 1973. The toll had taken its effect on the couple.

Picture of Miriam Makeba with Stokeley Carmichael

She continued to perform in Africa, Europe and Asia and stayed clear of America which had rejected her because of her love for Stokeley Carmichael. She found herself at one of the most historic events to be held in Africa.

She was one of the entertainers at the Rumble in the Jungle match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974.

The following year she addressed the United Nations again. Makeba used her profile to raise awareness of the plight of her people and pushing for freedom snd equal rights.

She didn’t think twice about using her star quality and charm to put the cause of freedom above her own career. Black liberation was her motivation.

Tragedy struck again. Her daughter Bongi passed away. She was more than just her daughter. She was her friend, confidant, collaborator and song writer on unconventional projects such as the Tribute to Malcolm X.

As usual her mettle and never say die attitude got her through the difficulties.

She met Paul Simon through her ex Hugh Masekela. He introduced the pair and months later they were on the road of the historic Graceland Tour. It took her mind off the death of her daughter.

Two concerts were held in Harare, Zimbabwe. I remember watching them on TV. The shows were billed as Graceland: The African Concert. It was an exquisite show. I was mesmerised watching Paul Simon performing with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

However, Miriam Makeba stole the show and my heart though she was much too old for me. Nevertheless, I had a crush for this woman whose aura radiated way beyond the TV screen. I can understand why Carmichael and Masekela and others fell for her.

Makeba was a strong woman. She was outspoken. She was a revolutionary. She was an artist and unconventional. She attracted men with similar strengths to hers. It is possible that this is why their unions were short lived.

She had a thing for strong black men who were about black liberation and Black Power. If she was not with them physically, she was with them mentally and spiritually.

They were the subjects of her music. They were her muses. There was a two way exchange of energy fuelling the fight for liberation. Her projects on Malcolm X. and Samora Machel illustrate her awareness of the icons of the Black liberation struggle.

The tour worked its magic and brought record executives back to their senses. Warner Bros signed her up and she released Sangoma [Healer], in honour of her mother who was a sangoma. It was her way of paying tribute to her and dealing with that tragedy that seemed to dog her.

The album consisted of accappella healing chants. Her autobiography Makeba: My story followed shortly after. It was published and translated into numerous European languages.

She soon returned to what she did equally well – getting under the skin of the Apartheid Regime. She performed at Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute held at Wembley Stadium in London on the 11th of June 1988.

It was broadcast to 67 countries and garnered an audience of about 600 million. The purpose of this event was to call for the release of the struggle icon Nelson Mandela.

It didn’t do her any favours with the Apartheid regime which was nearing its doomed shelf life and squirming under the glare of the world. The pressure was too much and the cracks began to appear.

Two years later, President Frederik de Klerk unbanned the ANC [African National Congress] and other banned organisations. His announcement that Mandela was to be released sent shockwaves across the world.

Mandela was finally released on 11 February 1990. I remember the moment he was released, walking hand in hand with Winnie Mandela and waving to an ocean of supporters.

Mandela never forgot the efforts of Makeba. He persuaded her to return. She promptly returned at his invitation and reassurances for her safety. Three decades after she left, she was finally back home to reap the rewards of her sweat and tears.

She marked her return with another album, Eyes on Tomorrow. It was a collaborative effort with Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone and her ex and lifetime collaborator – Hugh Masekela.

Her return home was magical. She made an enchanting appearance in an episode of The Cosby Show. Now, she could have some fun. A role in Sarafina followed the same year. It was a role befitting her role in the struggle.

She played Angelina, the mother of Sarafina. The film follows the footsteps of students involved in the 1976’s  Soweto youth uprising. She returned to the studio and released, Sing Me A Song.

Good fortune continued to follow her and her life of struggle seemed to be behind her. Miriam Makeba was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in October 1999.

The following year she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category for her album Homeland. Cedric Samson and Michael Levinsohn for the New York City based record label Putumayo World Music produced it.

However, Mama Africa was touched by the suffering she saw in Africa. Away from the glare of the limelight, she rolled up her sleeves and worked with Graça Machel-Mandela; she was the South African first lady. They worked with children suffering from HIV/AIDS, child soldiers, and the physically handicapped.

Awards and accolades followed soon after. Makeba received the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold by the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin. It was awarded for outstanding services to peace and international understanding in 2001.

Many others followed. She was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans. She embarked on a farewell tour in 2005, performing concerts in all the countries she visited during her years in exile or working life.

Tribute shows were done in her memory at the Barbican in London and the Festival d’Ile de France. The latter was hosted by another prominent musician and activist Angelique Kidjo from Benin and a Grammy Award winner.

A documentary, Mama Africa, about her life also followed providing insight into her long and colourful career and personal life. It cemented her legacy as a musician and a revolutionary.

Miriam Makeba dedicated her life to fight injustice and wherever she found it she fought it. So it is no coincidence that on the 9th of November 2008, she was performing at a concert organised to support Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camora.

The Camora is a mafia like organisation found in the Region of Campania.

Mama Africa suffered a heart attack after performing the hit, Pata Pata, that brought her to the world’s attention. The doctors at the Pinetta Grande clinic were unable to revive her.

She passed away doing the two things she loved doing – music and fighting for freedom. It was typical of Miriam Makeba to sacrifice her life to causes she believed in even if it cost her comfort or her life. She always put others before herself which is the opposite of what most musicians do today.

It is not only her music that made her such a loved person. It was her humanitarian and civil rights activism that garnered the respect of the world. Unlike most musicians today, she was outspoken and refused to be silenced by the corporations or those in the corridors of power. She spoke truth to power.

That was a remarkable feat for a young black girl who spent her first months in prison, then grew up in the dusty townships of South Africa. Throughout her life, she embodied the African’s resiliant spirit to overcome adversity against all odds.

For Makeba, the people, Africa came first. She was never ashamed of her culture. She was proud of it and made African culture cool. She didn’t have to chant the slogan Black is Beautiful. She personified it. She wore it like a royal cloak with subliminal splendour and grace. She said it loudly and silently but without uttering a word.

She paved the road for the current crop of African musicians who are enjoying international fame today.

She was a phenomenal African woman who embraced her Africaness with pride and the dignity of royalty. She serenaded the world with her music and documented the life’s of Africans in the townships of South Africa.

She brought their plight to the world. She was the most vociferous and visible anti-apartheid campaigner for over three decades. She was a civil rights activist and stood for freedom, equal rights and justice all over the world.

She said it best herself when she said, My life, my career, every song I sing and every appearance I make, are bound up with the plight of my people.

She was and will always be a revolutionary musician. It is not enough to love her music. Her legacy should remind us and inspire us to do more to be better people and make the world a better place.

There are those who claim struggle credentials to monopolise power and accumulate wealth in society and conveniently omit the contributions of people like Miriam Makeba who gave of themselves selflessly without care for reward or financial compensation.

These are the true heroes and heroines who we must continue to write about and tell their stories to prevent the collective memory from forgetting. I salute this phenomenal revolutionary musician. May the Makeba spirit live through every one of us through the act of remembering her and impersonating her selfless sacrifice for freedom and justice.

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November 10, 2014 · 4:25 pm