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People: Makeba hits the wrong note

HER magnetic voice and political lyrics carried the suffering of black South Africans to the world, but Miriam Makeba's words in praise of a military dictator have struck a sour note. Makeba shocked many Togolese when she congratulated General Gnassingbe Eyadema 'on the success of democracy in Togo'.

'It's a great pity coming from someone who purports to support democracy,' said Yawovi Agboyigbo, of the Front of Associations for Renewal. Edem Kodjo, a former secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity, said the remark was too ridiculous for comment. 'I'm trying to ignore her whole mission (for the African National Congress),' he said.

It is not the first time Makeba has offended pro-democracy leaders. When Ivory Coast held its first contested presidential election in 1990, she went to Abidjan to support General Eyadema's friend, President Felix Houphouet-Boigny. She remonstrated with the opposition Ivorian Popular Front for using one of her songs in its campaign.

IF YOU are a tycoon and the boss of a sports team, stay out of politics. That is the advice Bernard Tapie imparted after hearing that Silvio Berlusconi was entering Italy's political fray. Mr Tapie, former French urban affairs minister and head of Olympique Marseille, the European football champions, told the newspaper Quotidien de Paris that Mr Berlusconi had 'everything to lose' by his move.

The media magnate and president of AC Milan, the Italian champions, 'has not yet measured how much a political commitment costs when you are in business . . . He has entered (a field) in which he will triumph or die.' Mr Tapie, who has had a rough ride in both politics and business, said that, like himself, Mr Berlusconi had nothing left to gain in glory, money or power.

FOR the Indian film star Dimple Kapadia, it was a case of choice, not duty. The 38-year- old actress changed her mind about playing an elderly mother in the Hindi film Kartavya, or Duty, and as a result she is being boycotted by thousands of producers.

'We have circulated a ban order to our 4,000 member-producers,' K D Shourie, secretary of the Film Makers' Combine, told the Hindustan Times. FMC members produce nearly 300 films a year in Bombay, more than a third of the total film production from India, the world's most prolific cinema nation.

The newspaper said the FMC declared the ban after the film's producer, Rahul Gupta, lost about pounds 500,000 from 12 days of shooting with Ms Kapadia in the mother's role. The FMC said she should pay compensation and gave her a week to pay and to resume the role. She failed to respond.

THE veteran Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal has added his voice to the chorus of praise for Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List. 'It gave me goosebumps over my whole body,' he said. 'Of course I have seen many Holocaust films, but none of them can compare with this. The others always lacked something, to those of us who had experienced it.'

Of Schindler, whom he met twice after the Second World War, Mr Wiesenthal told the Viennese magazine Kurier Freizeit: 'He was a playboy and a ladies' man who shortened his life by drinking too much, a real go-getter. Naturally that impressed the SS. In times when you could not get anything he even managed to lay hands on French cognac.'