just yesterday, i first noticed my neighbor's old school Simon and Garfunkel record stashed with some of her other "antiques" (in quotes since antiques means different things to different age groups). My mind immediately went to Miriam Makeba, who I had not heard from in such a long time since the unfortunate demise of my first-generation iPod.
Anyway, the first time I encountered Miriam Makeba was at the Paul Simon concert in 1987. No, I am not that old to have personally attended what was dubbed the African concert. My parents taped it when it first came out on Public Television and then years after, when I was seven, my brothers and I spent an evening with my parents watching our homemade copy (back when most people had VCRs). The concert took place in Zimbabwe due to apartheid restrictions in South Africa. My parents took the time to explain to us the horrors of apartheid which then led to our first primer on African-European relations over the past decades and centuries. At the young age, after watching my parents' again homemade copy of Sarafina on Broadway and then the moving performances by Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, I began to appreciate the role of that performers had in highlighting the ills of their society. (Note that I said "began"...at this age, I was still very much picking snot out of my nose and playing with barbies...not engaging in activism and the like).
Now, with the death of Miriam Makeba at the age of 76, I have revisited that footage of the African concert in which she details the plight of South African blacks under apartheid. Listening to her that evening with my family was probably one of my more transformative moments in childhood. Miriam possessed an indescribably soulful voice that challenged and soothed the heart in manner that could only be accomplished by a mother. Mama Africa, our mother, you will be missed.
I couldn't choose between these two performances at the African concert. Hope you will enjoy both though. After hearing the news of her death I have not had the courage to finish the entire clips without breaking down into tears. So please enjoy them for me. The first is entitled Soweto Blues, written by Hugh Masekela and the second, Under African Skies is a duet with Paul Simon. Memories.
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