South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba celebrated in Google Doodle

 

The South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba has been celebrated in a Google Doodle on what would have been her 81st birthday.

Makeba, who was born in Johannesburg in 1932, worked with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte and Paul Simon in a musical career that spanned decades.

She is considered to be the first singer to popularise African music internationally, initially performing jazz before moving into a style that is commonly known by the catch-all title ‘world music’.

The politics of Makeba’s music led to her exile from South Africa in 1959 shortly after she appeared in an anti-apartheid documentary that made her an international star.

She was denied access to her homeland for 31 years, only returning in 1990 at the insistence of future president Nelson Mandela who had only recently been released from prison.

During her exile she became a prominent critic of South Africa, even testifying against apartheid before the United Nations, which led to her becoming an honorary citizen of 10 countries.

Makeba died in Italy in 2008 during a performance for the author, journalist and anti-mafia campaigner Roberto Saviano.

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