Miriam Makeba saves ACT Awards

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

World-renowned South African songtress and mentor to many artists Miriam Makeba has won a Lifetime Achievement Award of the yearly Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) Awards.

Makeba was honoured last week at the Nedbank head office in Sandton, salvaging an arts awards ceremony that had lost its street cred. In recent years, the awards have been accused of predictability at best, and awarding arts mediocrity at worst.

Controversial and somehow lacking in prestige, the ACT Awards this time did not do enough to revive their sparkle and questionable integrity.

They have lost the fanfare of the early years, particularly from 1998 and into the early 2000s. The winners in those years continue to shine long after getting an ACT award.

Some of the category winners have over the years left even the arts community asking whether they really deserved an ACT statuette. Questions have also been asked regarding some of the judges' knowledge, commitment and contribution to the arts.

This time around Makeba was presented with this award along with Lynette Marais of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and veteran thespian and visual arts teacher David Koloane, who was given a standing ovation at the ceremony.

Past recipients have included Gibson Kente, Es'kia Mphahlele, Sylvia Glasser, Sophie Mgcina, Esther Mahlangu and Ronnie Govender.