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Love that just goes on

IN AN exciting journey that started in the 1950s in Sophiatown and ended in Italy in November 2008, it is good to know that Miriam Makeba's legacy lives on.

It is the remarkable love she had for Africa that has been responsible for the love the continent keeps on showering her with even in death.

Africa is truly where her heart lay, as she said in one of her songs. The 13 diplomatic passports she had, when Africa opened her arms to her, are testimony to this mutual love.

That love will manifest itself once again next Wednesday when Makeba posthumously receives an award alongside former president Nelson Mandela and other international leaders in Monrovia, Liberia.

Makeba is fortunate to be remembered and honoured. She deserves it after the persecution she had to endure under the apartheid regime.

A woman who was denied entry into South Africa after her performance with King Kong in the UK, she was later even denied coming home to bury her mother.

She lived among strangers who loved her, though she was conscious that she was not one of them - as she sings in Alone.

On her return after 39 years spent in the US, Africa and Europe, she was finally able to visit her mother's grave.

Her first show at the Standard Bank Arena was a resounding success. Packed to the rafters, it was a clear indication of how much she was loved.

Today there are many of education beneficiaries, such as Dr Seipati Mogotsi who lives in Atlanta and is proud to say she was educated by Makeba.

On the other hand, Madiba is the epitome of forgiveness, love and leadership. Yet in contrast to Makeba, he spent 27 years in jail - most of it on Robben Island.

Against all odds, this is the man who forgave and moved on with his life.

There is no doubt that the two icons have put our country on the world map.

I cannot think of more deserving people and I know that God will bless traditional queen Julee Endee and president of Liberia Ellen Sirleef Johnson for their generosity and thoughtfulness.

But Makeba and Mandela make it easy for anyone to honour them. We congratulate them from the bottom of our hearts. We also thank Liberia for this amazing gesture.

If only we could love, cherish, honour and celebrate them to the magnitude that others are doing, our children would not be drowning in ignorance, entitlement and alack of patriotism or kanjani ...

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