Last night Dutch TV channel The Hour of the Wolf  broadcasted a colorful portrait of Africa’s most famous singer Miriam Makeba . You can watch this documentary in flash or via Microsoft Silverlight.

This documentary gives not only a great visual overview of Makeba’s career but through the many interviews with the singer and guests one can gets a really good impression of the life and circumstances in South Africa before 1994, during Apartheid and Makeba’s struggle against the regime.

Especially the early years of Miriam Makeba are well highlighted; her performances as part of the African Jazz & Variety shows at the City Hall in Johannesburg, her start as a singer with The Manhattan Brothers, her rise and fall in  the USA, living as an exile in Guinea…there is even some rare footage from an unofficial film ‘Come Back Africa’ (1959) by American filmmaker Lionel Rogosin that was smuggled out of the country and contained 2 songs by a very young Makeba. Essential film footage and a treasure to all lovers of the music of  one of South Africa’s greatest singers.

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She married five times, lost her only daughter and lived in exile in the United States, Guinea and Belgium. She was surrounded by President John F. Kennedy, actor Marlon Brando and singer Ella Fitzgerald. She scored an international smash hit with Pata Pata. That precisely this apolitical dance song was so successful made ​​her slightly sad but she was not complaining: “The audience chooses what it wants.”

Makeba was born in a South African township, broke through as a jazz singer and grew under the wing of Harry Belafonte into a musical and political legend. Makeba had enormous presence and never publicly took a mince words: “I do not talk politics, I tell the truth.” In 1963, she said to the United Nations, and became a figurehead of the anti-apartheid struggle in her country. It earned her the nickname Mama Africa and led to thirty years in exile.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela asked her personal “coming home” and return to South Africa. She died in 2008 of a heart attack. This richly documented ode celebrates her unforgettable voice, her charisma and her high-priced idealism.

Director: Mika Kaurismäki
Producer: Starhaus / ZDF

see also my previous posts 

African Jazz & Variety -Alfred Herbert 1952

South African Soul Divas pt 1-Miriam Makeba

King Kong, the first All African Jazz Opera 1956

South African Soul Divas Pt 4 -The Skylarks

see & hear my previous post with MP3 Preview

Township Jive & Kwela Jazz (1940-1960) Available Now!

Soul Safari’s  first compilation featuring 2 rare recordings by Miriam Makeba with The Skylarks & Spokes Mashiyane

 The Skylarks w/ Makeba & Spokes Mashiyane -Ekoneni

 The Skylarks w/ Makeba & Spokes Mashiyane -Inkomo Zodwa

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