Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba Dies in Italy


By Serena Chaudhry

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 10 (Reuters Life!) – South African singer Miriam Makeba, one of Africa’s best known voices and a champion of the fight against apartheid, has died of a heart attack after a performance in Italy. She was 76.

Known as “Mama Africa” and the “Empress of African Song”, Makeba was the first black South African musician to gain international fame, winning renown in the United States in the 1950s with her sweeping vocals.

Makeba fell ill after a concert against organised crime in the southern Italian town of Baia Verde late on Sunday, her publicist said. She died after being rushed to a clinic in the town of Castel Volturno.

“It was from a heart attack, but she had not been well for some time,” publicist Mark Lechat told Reuters. He said Makeba had also been suffering from arthritis.

South African radio stations paid tribute to Makeba, reading out text messages in praise of one of the best loved stars in the country and across the continent.

Makeba had spent 31 years in exile after openly speaking out against apartheid. One of her songs demanded the release of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail fighting white-minority rule.

Makeba made popular fashion statements that stressed her African pride through hairstyles and traditional garb.

Makeba came from humble beginnings in a shantytown near Johannesburg. The former domestic servant first started to sing in her school choir and learned new songs by listening to recordings of American jazz artists like Ella Fitzgerald.

She mixed jazz with traditional African sounds and punctuated some songs with the clicks of her Xhosa language.

Makeba won attention on the international stage as lead singer for the South African band The Manhattan Brothers. In New York, she worked with Harry Belafonte.

Exiled after speaking out against apartheid, Makeba created classics such as “The Click Song” and “Pata Pata”.

While she won over millions on the stage, Makeba’s personal life was marred by tragedy. Makeba had said her first husband often beat her, and she left him after finding him in bed with her sister.

Makeba married American “black power” activist Stokely Carmichael in 1968 and they moved to the West African country of Guinea, but later split. She was divorced four times. (Additional reporting by Antonella Cinelli in Rome; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

Visit her MySpace page.

703 newspaper front pages from 66 countries on 5 November 2008

The Newseum has a collection of front page images from 730 newspapers on 5 November 2008:…rchive.asp

It is interesting to see how many made Obama’s victory a front page story.

It may be safe to assume that there would have been front page coverage of the election results in as many papers if the outcome would have been different.

What is interesting is the headlines used when reporting on Obama’s victory. I like the headline from one of the papers in Syndey: "Everyone’s a Winner".

Mobile post sent by BlackWomenInEurope using Utterlireply-count Replies.

“QUILOMBO COUNTRY,” the Documentary about Black Rebel Villages of Brazil, Now Live Online

“Quilombo Country,” the award-winning film about Brazilian villages founded by escaped and rebel slaves, can now be downloaded to rent, buy and stream instantly, right here:

Brazil, once the world’s largest slave colony, was brutal and deadly for millions of Africans. But many thousands escaped and rebelled, creating settlements they called quilombos in Brazil’s untamed hinterland. Largely unknown to the outside world, these communities struggle today to preserve a rich heritage born of resistance to oppression.

“Quilombo Country,” narrated by Chuck D, the legendary poet and leader of the iconic hip hop band Public Enemy, explores Afrobrazilian village life among the forests and rivers of northern Brazil, with rare footage of festivals and ceremonies that blend Catholic, African and native Amazonian rituals and customs. “Quilombo Country” is alive with first-person accounts of racial conflict, cultural ferment, political identity, and the struggle for land and human rights.See it now.

[This download option is for personal use only. For institutional use, please go to to purchase or rent “Quilombo Country.” All institutional DVDs are full-resolution suitable for projection, and contain public performance and classroom screening rights. Journalists may write to or call 212-260-7540 to receive a copy for review for publication.] 


“An up-close-and-personal look at the state of these villages today, featuring surprisingly articulate accounts from residents lacking in formal education.”

The New York Times 


“Persuasive, complex, and timely.”
Southern Quarterly“Outstanding footage of festivals, parties and religious ceremonies.”
In These Times

“Wonderfully rich…Abrams’s grainy, intimate portrait of the difficult everyday life of contemporary quilombo residents
refuses romanticization.”
– Black Camera

“Winner, Best Documentary, 2007”
– Black International Cinema Berlin festival

“Quilombo Country”
2006 • USA • Color • Digital 4:3 • Running time: 73 minutes

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC-US: Exorcising the Ghosts of Slavery

By Elizabeth Eames Roebling

SANTO DOMINGO, Nov 5 (IPS) – On the island where the African slave trade was first introduced to the western hemisphere in 1520, the United States embassy in Santo Domingo hosted more than 1,000 people to view the possible election of the son of an African to the U.S. presidency.

While the current ambassador, Robert Fannin, is from Arizona and a close friend of Republican Sen. John McCain, there was a clear pro-Barack Obama sentiment in the room.

At the entrance to the elegant Jaragua Hotel, Dominicans could cast mock ballots for either Obama or McCain and have their photographs taken next to cardboard cutouts of the candidates.

The gathering reflected the skin tones of the Dominican Republic, whose population is described as 15 percent white, 15 percent black, and 70 percent mixed race. For Dominicans themselves, the issue of race and skin colour is more subtle than the simple “black-white” line in the United States, with six different shades of skin tones, including “blond”, “wheat”, “indian” and “negro (black)”.

Read the full story.

Dance series traces African diaspora-Vancouver audiences will be given a look at ‘bigger map’ of dance

by Deborah Meyers

Les ecailles de la memoire

(The Scales of Memory)

Urban Bush Women/Compagnie Jant-Bi

The Vancouver Playhouse


Tickets 604-801-6225

“The original impulse was embarrassment,” confessed Jim Smith. He was explaining how he and co-producer Barb Clausen came to build DanceHouse, Vancouver’s new large-scale contemporary dance series, which gets underway this Friday with the presentation of Les ecailles de la memoire, by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Urban Bush Women and Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal.

“Whenever we had conversations with colleagues in other parts of the country,” Smith said, “all we’d hear was: Oh poor you, in Vancouver. The onus has always been on you to get on a plane, to go somewhere else, if you wanted to see contemporary dance of a certain scale. Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa all have ongoing series of this kind, and we were very aware of what was lacking as a result of not having this stimulus in the community.” Get all of the information.

Kenya declares national holiday in celebration of Barack Obama’s presidential victory

The election of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, has a special resonance in Africa – the home continent of his father.

It was greeted with scenes of wild celebration in his home village of Nyangoma Kogelo, in the green, gently rolling hills of western Kenya, the provincial capital Kisumu, and Nairobi. Thursday has been declared a national holiday.

Kgalema Motlanthe, the new South African president, told Mr Obama that his election “carries with it hope for millions of your countrymen and women as much as it is for millions of people particularly of African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the Diaspora”.

Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and a leader of the struggle against apartheid, said it was “almost as when Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994.

Read on from the source.

Caribbean celebrates historic Obama victory

By Oscar Ramjeet
Caribbean Net News Special Correspondent

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands: History was created on Tuesday night when 47-year-old Senator Barak Obama defeated 72-year-old Senator John Mc Cain to become the 44th President of the United States of America and the first African-American to move into the White House.

The Caribbean Diaspora, especially in New York, California, and Florida, turned out in full force to support the Illinois Democrat following calls by regional leaders in Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Kitts and Nevis, amongst others, to support Obama, who in his victory speech pledged to unite America. He repeated the speech he made at the Democratic Convention more than four years ago when he said there is no blue state or red state but a United States. Read on.

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