MAMA AFRICA: MIRIAM MAKEBA serves as a powerful introduction to a new generation of Americans to Miriam Makeba, South African singer and anti-apartheid activist, the voice and the hope of Africa.
Miriam Makeba was the first African musician to become a true international star. Her music - which influenced artists across the globe - always remained anchored in her traditional South African roots and conveyed strong messages against racism and poverty.
Miriam Makeba was forced into a life in exile, after staring in the 1959 documentary film “COME BACK AFRICA” which exposed the harsh realities of apartheid. She sang for John F. Kennedy and Marlon Brando, performed with Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone and Dizzie Gillespie, was married to Hugh Masekela and also the radical Black Panther, Stokely Carmichael. Her life was tumultuous but always fascinating. She stood for truth and justice, fought for the oppressed and campaigned tirelessly against apartheid.
She died collapsing after leaving the stage at a concert in the Southern Italian town of Castel Volturno in November 2008. Makeba was 76 years old.
This documentary, directed by Mika Kaurismäki, traces her life and music through more than fifty years of performing. Using rare archive footage of her performances, interviews and intimate scenes filmed over the years, this powerful documentary expertly exposes the biography of a unique person, a world icon. Friends and colleagues, some who knew her since she started performing in the dance halls of South Africa (remember “Pata Pata”), together with her grandchildren Zenzi Monique Lee and Nelson Lumumba Lee, allow us to learn about the remarkable journey of Miriam Makeba, “Mama Africa”.