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Reader's tribute to Miriam Makeba

I grew up listening to my father play Miriam Makeba. It was just after the Independence of Zimbabwe and the lyrics of the song I loved the most is as fresh as dew in my mind.

Miriam Makeba was a woman I should have known. She was wise, a teacher, an artist and a humble African daughter. Of all her songs, the song on my mind is  “African Sunset”. It is my song of the month. I LOVE IT. It truly embodies our culture and our roots as Africans. As you know in the rural areas, the boys and the men herd the cattle and watch out for them. It is their responsibility to ensure no cattle or sheep get lost and make sure they return into the crawl safe and sound. Miriam Makeba is saying to these boys “if you lose the cattle how we will pay the bride price known as lobola…L OL

The guitar in the background drives me CRAZZZY in this song.

In the African culture we say “inotho yendoda yinkomo zakhe” meaning the cattle are a man’s riches.  These cattle feed the families, they used for lobola and building relationships between families. For weddings, funerals and family gathering a cattle is always slaughtered and we celebrate and have a feast.

The song makes us think of the the African sunset, when she says “ilanga lishonile” meaning the sun has set. If you have never been to Africa, you better get here. There is nothing as beautiful as the African sunset. In this verse she tells the boys to bring the cattle back home. I can surely see the boys running around with their sticks chasing the cows to the crawl. The passion in their eyes. The dust on their feet , barefooted, whistling and shouting leading the cattle into the crawl. Oh how I love Africa!

This song makes me think of the father who has taught his boys how to herd cattle, how to value his tradition and take up his responsibilities and watch over the family’s wealth.

Miriam Makeba took our culture, our heritage and values to the world and the world came to us. I celebrate you Mama Afrika. The richness in her voice as she sings this song speaks of wisdom, love, passion and appreciation of Africa.

Ngikuthandile Mama, lamanje ngisakuthanda.

Usitshiyele uluju lwezingoma ezisikhumbuza ubuntu

Ilizwi lakho silizwile njalo sizoligcina enhliz’weni zethu

Ilizwi lakho lothando

Ilizwi lakho elikhuluma ngesintu sakithi (AFRICA)

Ilizwi elihle 

Ilizwi lentombi ye Africa

Ubuhle bakho buzohlala kimi

- Sent to us by Loraine Sibanda


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