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April 01, 1988 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-01

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ARTS

The Michigan Doily

Friday, April 1, 1988

Page 5

... ..... . . . .. . ..... .. . .. .... ..... ............5

Makeba 's

music

cries

from

the

heart

By Todd Shanker
"I've said the government of
South Africa oppresses my people.
When I say police shoot little chil-
dren, men and women, unarmed it is
true. Should I stop saying these
things? Should I lie? Or should I
continue to tell the truth? I have
chosen the truth. I sing songs about
the way things are. They are the
cries of my heart."
A native South African banished
from her homeland, Miriam
Makeba's life is a magnificent
African mosaic, deeply engraved
with subjugation, tragedy, and tri-
umph. Her music vibrates with the
beauty of a proud people's ancient
musical heritage as well as the pain
of the savage oppression of
apartheid. Sunday evening, Miriam
Makeba will make her Ann Arbor
debut with two performances at the
Power Center. The shows will also
feature the blustery, Mbaqanga-jazz
trumpet and deep, dark, bullfrog vo-
cals of another South African expa-
triate, the electrifying Hugh
Masekela.
Born March 4, 1932, in Johan-
nesburg, South Africa, Miriam
Makeba clashed with the horrors of
apartheid before she was even old
enough to understand her tribula-
tions. When she was just 18 days
old, her mother was jailed for mak-
ing cornmeal beer to sell to neigh-
bors, in defiance of anti-alcohol laws
imposed on Blacks. Mother and

her into perpetual exile by stamping
her passport "invalid." Because of
her often politically poignant state-
ments, South Africa's white minor-
ity regime refused to allow her back
into the country. She had become an
exile.
"When I want to talk to my dead
mother, I kneel and face the rising
sun. I believe those who die, espe-
cially those you have loved, will al-
ways be with you," she says, in a
homesick voice that reflects sad
memories like the silent faces on a
faded, black-and-white photo.
The United States waited with
open arms, however, and quickly
clasped Makeba to its ample wallet.
Record companies drooled over her
breezy African lullabies and illumi-
nating parables. Her 1967 hit "Pata,
Pata" topped record charts through-
out the world and started a new dance
craze. But in the midst of her
glittering ascendance, Makeba's ca-
reer suddenly began a tortuous and
helpless freefall. Her 1968 marriage
to Black Power revolutionary
Stokely Carmichael led to cancelled
shows, vaporized record contracts,
and media ostracism. She was now
an exile in two countries.
Looking back on the unofficial
boycott that curtailed her American
career, Makeba says she was not an-
gry but sad. "I don't feel I should

complain because there are so many
people at home who are much worse
off," she says. "Sometimes I think
of myself as a spotted leopard among
cheetahs. Yes, I'm different. But in
the bigger scheme of things, I look
at Blacks. Wherever they are I see
suffering. I think of people like Mrs.
Mandela who are struggling right
there in the flames, people who see
so much ugliness done to children
and whose husbands are in prison.
At least I don't have to dodge bul-
lets."
These vicissitudes might have
destroyed a lesser person. But the
vitality of the Swazi culture in
which Makeba grew up sustained
her. She returned to Africa in 1970,
this time settling in Guinea. There
she became a tireless and outspoken
delegate to the United Nations, in-
cessantly decrying the apartheid
regime of South Africa while fight-
ing against human rights violations
all over the world.
Throughout the '70s and into the
'80s, Makeba refueled her music ca-
reer by touring a variety of African
countries. In concert, Makeba
multiplies her voices; there are
grainy shouts, clear exhortations,
Xhosa tongue-clicks, robust yodels,
eerie bird-cries, surging harmonies,
and joyously unpredictable counter-
point. At other times, her vocal in-

flections, curl like warm arms
around a baby, for without undue
hyperbole, she is internationally
known as "Mama Africa."
Sadly, it is as a mother that
Makeba has suffered most inti-
mately, for the real victim of her
exile has been her only child. The
decline of her beautiful daughter
Bongi into madness and death carved
yet another scar into her soul.
Bongi's alienation from her home-
land of South Africa lead to mental
instability. She could not adapt to
the harsh and constant changes that
her mother handled so well. Bongi
died in the midst of childbirth in
Guinea, still separated from the cul-
ture and homeland.
But as the rollercoaster contin-
ued, in 1986, Makeba won Bel-
gium's coveted Dag Hammerskjold
Peace Prize - a well-deserved tes-
tament to her important role since
the '50s as a symbol of Black pride,
resilience, and resistance. In 1987
she returned to America, absolutely
shining on Paul Simon's Graceland
Tour, recording a new album called
Sangoma, and publishing an auto-
biography - entitled Makeba: My
Story.
Another graduate of the Graceland
Tour, the legendary trumpeter Hugh
Masekela, will also bring his incen-
See Makeba, Page 7

Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela team up Sunday night for what
promises to be a cultural, political, and musical experience of

unparalleled power and beauty.
baby spent six months in a filthy
prison with barely enough food to
keep them alive.
After she left South Africa to
pursue a music career, she stepped
onto what would turn out to be a
rollercoaster of emotion, hurtling her
through triumphant peaks and shat-
tering lows. In 1960, her mother

died, and Makeba yearned to go
home and be with her family. But
when she entered the South African
consulate in New York City, in one
swift motion, a white bureaucrat cast

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Sun.,
April 3

The University of Michigan
SCHOOL OF MUSIC

Concert in Memoriam
In observation of the 20th anniversary of the death of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the Brazeal Dennard
Chorale, Our Own Thing Chorale, Ann Arbor Orchestra,
H. Robert Reynolds conducting
Glenda.Kirkland, soprano; Gregory Broughton, tenor;
Willis Patterson, narrator;.Brian Oliver, child soloist.
James Weldon Johnson: Lift Every Voice and Sing
William Grant Still: Afro-American Symphony
Adolphus Hailstork: Done Made My Vow
Hill, 8:00 p.m. Free.

THE
DEAD

SAMMY AND
ROSIE
GET LAID

For up-to-date program information on School of Music
events call the 24-Hour Music Hotline, 763-4726

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