Miriam Makeba Legendary South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba (born 1932) rose to international fame during the 1960s, attracting a wide following through concert appearances and recordings. Although capable of great vocal versatility in a variety of languages and settings, including jazz and blues, Makeba became best-known for singing in her native dialect.
Forced into exile from her native country in 1960, Makeba used her stature to speak out against apartheid – the institutionalized practice of political, economic, and social oppression along racial lines. Such efforts earned her the title “Mama Africa,” as she became an enduring symbol in the fight for equality. In 1991, following the 1990 prison release of Nelson Mandela, Makeba triumphantly returned to South Africa, settling in the city of Johannesburg.