Miriam was one of the 20th Century’s most extraordinary women. A musical giant, a campaigner and someone whose life was inextricably linked to the fight against Apartheid and for the civil rights movement and African liberation
Born in Johannesburg on 4 March 1932, Miriam became the first international star to come from Africa after a feted tour of the United States in the 50s. Her critical stance towards Apartheid came to light in a documentary and her South African passport was revoked. Nations around the world were quick to offer her citizenship.
After her divorce from Hugh Masekela, she married Black Panther Stokely Carmichael and became persona non grata in the US. She would then move to Guinea, where she and her husband were often seen in the company of the President and became synonymous with the ‘Winds of Change’ sweeping Africa from the west.
She vowed never to return to South Africa while it was under Apartheid and when she outlasted the evil system she had done so much to expose, she would be welcomed by Nelson Mandela as Mama Africa. She lived to see the United States elect a black President, something that must have seemed unthinkable to a woman whose life was spent on the fault lines of racial prejudice.
She died, aged 76, of a heart attack in Italy after a concert on behalf of Roberto Saviano, whose expose of the mafia had led to his life being threatened.
She will be sorely missed and we at Fly will feel her loss as she was a profound inspiration for us.
–Photo by Haags Uitburo—