South African songbird Miriam Makeba returned from political exile to give her first concert in the country in 32 years – sponsored by the state-controlled South African Broadcasting Corp.
Makeba, an active member of the anti-apartheid movement, was refused re-entry into the country after traveling to Europe in 1950 to promote the film “Come Back Africa.” Her return drew an SRO crowd of 4,000 to the Ellis Park arena here.
“Mama Afrika,” once married to black American activist Stokeley Carmichael, has been living in Belgium but now plans to settle in South Africa.
The concert was filmed April 18 and will be shown on local television by the SABC. The corporation, still under the control of the South African government, had until recently banned all Makeba’s material from South African airwaves.
Leading figures from the government and from the African National Congress, including ANC internal leader Walter Sisulu, also attended the concert.
The changing political scenario in South Africa has seen the return of most of the better-known exiled musicians, including Hugh Masekela, Abdulla Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), Letta Mbuli and Calphus Semenya.
Semenya co-hosted a “Unity” concert at a Johannesburg football stadium last month, featuring several former exiled musicians, in a bid to raise funds for other exiled returnees.