Icon deserves state funeral

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

South African artists have called for a state funeral for world renowned jazz diva and struggle icon Miriam Makeba, who died of a heart attack in Italy on Sunday night.

Jonas Gwangwa, who has known Makeba since the 1940s and produced two albums by Makeba, Pata Pata and AnEvening with Harry Belafonte, said: "She was a real icon and a star from this country who did a lot to highlight on international stage the oppression of apartheid.

"She is worth a state funeral."

Businesswoman and socialite Uyanda Mbuli said: "She inspired a lot of women in the country and should be honoured with a state funeral."

Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli also added his voice to the call for a state funeral for Makeba .

Likening her to a "Winnie Mandela of the arts", Mbuli said if anybody deserved a state funeral in the arts, then it is her.

"Considering that she addressed the UN and paid by being refused by the apartheid regime to come and bury her mother when she died, and the fact that she is the only musician I know of who has performed for so many heads of state of the world, she must get a state funeral," said Mbuli.

"I don't care who says what, Mama Africa deserves a state funeral because most of her life she was out of this country fighting for us," said kwaito kingpin Arthur Mafokate.

"Ironically at a time when she was supposed to be resting, instead she died performing,"

Ministry of Arts and Culture spokesman Sandile Memela confirmed that the department was aware of the sentiment that Makeba deserved a state funeral.

However, he could not say if that was indeed going to be the case.

Sowetan, however, understands that Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan will take the issue of Makeba's possible state funeral to his cabinet colleagues for discussion and a decision.

They are meeting tomorrow.