Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Miriam Makebe died yesterday.
I first became aware of Makebe when I saw her on video, performing in the huge concert before the legendary boxing match between George Foreman and Mohammed Ali in the classic film "Rumble in the Jungle". Known throughout the world as Mama Afrika this wonderful woman fought to free South Africa from the shackles of apartheid. She used her voice both to comfort through song and to speak out against injustice when she testified before the United Nations against aparheid. Makebe discovered that the government had revoked her passport when she tried to return home to attend her mother's funeral. She toured the world and supported liberty and human dignity.
She suffered a heart attack onstage at a concert in Italy performing in a concert against the Camorra a mafia style organisation.
Miriam Makebe died singing.
When I think about brave artists from other countries who continue to inspire and speak out against oppression it makes me aware of the role artists play in society. When political power is abused artists, writers, and performers are thrown in jail. In our comfortable democracy we mustn't forget that in choosing the arts as a profession we have a responsibility to speak out. To illuminate the world. In good times it is easier to create but we have to keep working, inspire, mobilising and speaking through our chosen medium in the hard times too.
Posted by Shannon Garson at 7:17 AM