JOHANNESBURG — Miriam Makeba, the South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for 30 years under apartheid, died after a concert in Italy. She was 76.
In her dazzling career, Makeba performed with musical legends from around the world — jazz maestros Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon — and sang for world leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.
She was also the first African woman to win a Grammy award.
The Pineta Grande clinic in Castel Volturno, near the southern city of Naples, said Makeba died of a heart attack early Monday.
Town Mayor Francesco Nuzzo said Makeba collapsed late Sunday at the end of a concert against organized crime, which has been blamed for the local massacre in September of six immigrants from Ghana.
Makeba had not looked well as she visited an immigrant aid centre in Castel Volturno early Sunday afternoon, the mayor said.
The death of “Mama Africa,” as she was known, plunged South Africa into shock and mourning.
“One of the greatest songstresses of our time has ceased to sing,” Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said in a statement.
“Throughout her life, Mama Makeba communicated a positive message to the world about the struggle of the people of South Africa and the certainty of victory over the dark forces of apartheid and colonialism through the art of song.”
Makeba wrote in her 1987 memoirs that friends and relatives who first encouraged her to perform compared her voice to that of a nightingale. With her distinctive style combining jazz with folk with South African township rhythms, she was often called “The Empress of African Song.”
She first started singing in Sophiatown, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Johannesburg that was a cultural hot spot in the 1950s before its black residents were forcibly removed by the apartheid government.
“I never understood why I couldn’t come home,” Ms. Makeba said upon her return at an emotional homecoming in Johannesburg in 1990 as the apartheid system began to crumble, according to The Associated Press. “I never committed any crime.”
Ms. Makeba wrote in 1987: “I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa, and the people, without even realizing.”
Dear reader, I had hoped to have The New Republicans III in time and posted for this time, but alas it seems that that is not going to happen. So it will have to be posted now - post - election, and we'll see how that works out.
I was talking with a coworker earlier today about how sad it was for Barack Obama’s grandmother to have died on the day before the election. My coworker took the sadness one step further, wondering if Madelyn Dunham’s vote (she voted by early absentee ballot) would now not be counted.
Not knowing the answer, I called the Office of Elections in Hawaii. Kevin Cronin, chief election officer for the state, just got back to me. Here’s what he said:
Ms. Dunham’s absentee mail ballot was received and reviewed under the Hawaii standards for processing absentee mail ballots… She was alive at that time. Her ballot will be opened tomorrow, and it will be counted in the same way that all absentee voters would be treated under our law.
The key point appears to be that Ms. Dunham was alive at the time her absentee ballot was received and reviewed, and that it met the standards for review at that time.
Madelyn Dunham’s vote will count, even if she is not here to learn the final tally.