Miriam Makeba

Singer + Songwriter and Civil Rights Activist
Born Mar 4, 1932

Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, was a Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil rights activist. In the 1960s she was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music in the U.S. and around the world. She is best known for the song "Pata Pata", first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967. She recorded and toured with many popular artists, such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and her former husband Hugh Masekela.… Read More

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1932 Birth Born on March 4, 1932.


1950 18 Years Old In 1950 at the age of 18, Makeba gave birth to her only child, Bongi Makeba, whose father was Makeba's first husband James Kubay. … Read More


1956 24 Years Old As early as 1956, she released the single "Pata Pata", which was played on all the radio stations and made her name known throughout South Africa.
1959 27 Years Old 1 More Event
She had a short-lived marriage in 1959 to Sonny Pillay, a South African singer of Indian descent. … Read More
1960 28 Years Old 1 More Event
Makeba then travelled to London where she met Harry Belafonte, who assisted her in gaining entry to the United States and achieving fame there. When she tried to return to South Africa in 1960 for her mother's funeral, she discovered that her South African passport had been cancelled.


1963 31 Years Old In 1963, Makeba released her second studio album for RCA, The World of Miriam Makeba. … Read More
1964 32 Years Old In 1964, Makeba and Masekela were married, divorcing two years later. In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. … Read More
1967 35 Years Old In 1967, more than ten years after she wrote the song, the single "Pata Pata" was released in the United States and became a worldwide hit.
1968 36 Years Old Her marriage to Trinidad-born civil rights activist, Black Panther, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael in 1968 caused controversy in the United States, and her record deals and tours were cancelled. … Read More


1973 41 Years Old She also separated from Carmichael in 1973 and continued to perform primarily in Africa, Europe and Asia, but not in the United States, where a de facto boycott was in effect. … Read More
1975 43 Years Old She addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the second time in 1975.
1978 46 Years Old She divorced Carmichael in 1978 and married an airline executive in 1980. … Read More


1985 53 Years Old After the death of her daughter Bongi in 1985, she decided to move to Brussels. … Read More
1988 56 Years Old She took part in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute, a popular-music concert staged on 11 June 1988 at Wembley Stadium, London, and broadcast to 67 countries and an audience of 600 million. … Read More
Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Tribute increased pressure on the government of South Africa to release Mandela, and in 1990, State President of South Africa Frederik Willem de Klerk reversed the ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid organisations, and announced that Nelson Mandela would shortly be released from prison.
1991 59 Years Old In 1991, Makeba, with Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone and Masekela, recorded and released her studio album, Eyes on Tomorrow. … Read More


1992 60 Years Old In 1992, she starred in the film Sarafina! … Read More
2000 68 Years Old In January 2000, her album, Homeland, produced by Cedric Samson and Michael Levinsohn for the New York City based record label Putumayo World Music, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category. … Read More
2001 69 Years Old In 2001, she was awarded the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold by the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin, "for outstanding services to peace and international understanding". She shared the Polar Music Prize with Sofia Gubaidulina. The prize is regarded as Sweden's foremost musical honour. They received their Prize from Carl XVI Gustaf King of Sweden during a nationally-televised ceremony at Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, on 27 May 2002.
2002 70 Years Old She also took part in the 2002 documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, where she and others recalled the struggles of black South Africans against the injustices of apartheid through the use of music.
2004 72 Years Old In 2004, Makeba was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.
2005 73 Years Old Makeba started a worldwide farewell tour in 2005, holding concerts in all of those countries that she had visited during her working life.
2008 76 Years Old 1 More Event
On 9 November 2008, she became ill while taking part in a concert organised to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation local to the Region of Campania. … Read More
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