Tributes for Mama Africa

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

One of the country's legendary musicians, the late Miriam Makeba, will be honoured at a concert next month.

A star-studded line-up of local and international artists will pay tribute to Makeba through a musical at a gala dinner to be held on March 4, her birth date.

The second public concert will take place at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg, on March 8, to coincide with International Woman's Day.

Makeba, who died in Italy last November after performing at a festival aimed at raising awareness of the heightened incidents of Mafia threats, was not only a cultural icon but a sterling ambassador for the country.

When South Africa was engulfed in the apartheid inferno, a brave young Makeba addressed the United Nations, telling them about the atrocities back home.

She used every platform available to her to make the world aware of the suffering of her people under apartheid.

The queen of clicks revolutionised the African look, succeeding in getting young black girls to imitate her short, natural hair.

She shone in African-influenced design, refusing to succumb to fly-by-night Eurocentric fashion trends.

Even her music retained the homegrown sound that saw her stand out and rapidly ascend the ladder of success, putting South Africa on the map.

This is something that would not have happened had she decided to take the short route of emulating already successful American artists.

Her long-time friend and mentor Harry Belafonte, alongside Hugh Masekela, Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya, Deborah Fraser, Jonas Gwangwa, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Thandiswa, Judith Sephuma, Malaika, Rebecca Malope, Siphokazi, Camagwini, Makeba's band, Sipho Mabuse and PJ Powers will celebrate a life well lived.

What is clear as the world continues to mourn Mama Africa is that, no matter how much is said, we can never thank her enough.

Another tribute concert was recently hosted by Ernest Coovi Adjovi in Cotonou, Benin, and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Entry to the show in Newtown is free.