Miriam Makeba, 1932-2008

Miriam Makeba‘s Pata Pata is one of my favourite songs of all time. It was the soundtrack to a particularly charming scene in a film I worked on, and I liked it so much (I don’t think it’s possible to hear this and not smile) that I used it as curtain call music in one of my own plays. She’s singing the chorus in Xhosa- you can hear her clicking her tongue if you listen carefully.

In the 1960s, Makeba was exiled from her native South Africa after she testified to the UN about apartheid- and ten countries granted her honourary citizenship. She was quoted as saying, “People think I consciously decided to tell the world what was happening in South Africa. No! I was singing about my life, and in South Africa we always sang about what was happening to us — especially the things that hurt us.” Last night, at the age of 76, Makeba had a heart attack while singing at an Italian benefit concert. She died while the crowd shouted for an encore.


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