“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”

Today, I was chit chatting with a friend,  I have known her for a year or so, and I mentioned that it was Miriam Makeba’s birthday, she turned to me and asked “who is Miriam Makeba?”  And I said to her in astonishment “you don’t know Miriam Makeba?

HOLD UP …   STOP the press! How can anyone over the age of forty not know  about “Mama Afrika?”  (Miriam Makeba’s nickname).

I assumed, since my friend was over forty and an African American, that she would know of Miriam Makeba.

Don’t assume that your life mirrors someone else’s just because you have many things in common. ~ Adalia

Hello visitor meet my Extraordinary woman Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 10 November 2008) was a South African singer and civil rights activist. The Grammy Award winning artist, often referred to as Mama Afrika, was banned from her country, South Africa, for 30+ years because of her stance against apartheid.

In 1960, when she tried to return to South Africa for her mother’s funeral, she discovered her South African passport had been cancelled. A few years prior to her leaving South Africa,  Miriam’s mother had asked her to sing  “Malika” at her funeral.

Her rich and sultry voice, her dedication, her courage to speak out against apartheid, was an  inspiration not only for her people in South Africa but for people all over the world, including me, a young  naive girl on the island of Antigua who was reminded every day of  my darker than dark complexion and my Pickaninny hair.

My introduction to Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba  is four years older than my mother, I was introduced to her rich and soulful voice via our Grundig radio, the same Grundig radio I referred to in “7 Confidence Boosting Songs.”

Her voice, her courage to speak/sing her truth in spite of dire consequences, her willingness to serve others and her unconditional love of herself, filled my heart and soul with joy and she and my mother inspired me to be proud of who I am and to embrace my beauty.

My appreciation for this extraordinary woman continued when I immigrated to the United States in 1975.  I eventually settled in the suburbs of Los Angeles CA.  In 1981 I was listening to a program, on KPFK,  featuring Miriam Makeba and was gifted  her album – Country Girl for calling into the radio station.

Miriam Makeba epitomizes what it means to be an EXTRAordinary woman.

Here are some of my favorite songs

Pata Pata

I first heard this song when I was 12 years old. Her songs, her mission and message are timeless.

I cannot listen to this song without tearing up. This is the song her mother wanted her to sing at her funeral.  This song is from Tanzania, it exemplifies what she stood for – she believed, as I do, that regardless of where you were born, we are all brothers and sisters.

The Click Song

The English people gave this song its name due to  the “clicking sound” of the Xhosa language that many find difficult to enunciate.


Miriam Makeba returned to South Africa on June 10 1990, on her French passport. The celebration was fit for a queen and in the eyes of many, she was that and a lot more.

Miriam Makeba’s life will inspire you to achieve your greatness.  Take the time to explore her rich legacy at the links below:






Makeba: My Story (Plume)





Pata Pata (Album Version)

Please share your thoughts – are  you familiar with Miriam Makeba?

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