South Africa pays tribute to singer Miriam MakebaNovember 15th, 2008 - 6:54 pm ICT by IANS
Johannesburg, Nov 15 (DPA) Around 1,000 people gathered in northern Johannesburg Saturday to pay their respects to Miriam Makeba, South Africa’s iconic songstress and anti-apartheid activist, who died last Monday in Italy.Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan was among a number of senior government officials who attended the emotional memorial service in the Coca-Cola Dome.
Jordan paid tribute to Makeba for putting South Africa on the map through her music, which included worldwide hits such as “Pata Pata” and “The Click Song”.
Devotees of the woman known widely as Mama Africa were treated to performances by some of her close friends in the music world.
Makeba, Africa’s first Grammy award winning singer, who spent 30 years in exile for speaking out against the apartheid regime, died at 76 after performing at a concert in southern Italy in support of a campaign against organised crime.
The manner of her departure from the mortal stage was seen as fitting for the singer, who only returned to South Africa in 1990, the year when fellow anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
On Wednesday, President Kgalema Motlanthe declared that the country’s flags be flown at half-mast until her funeral - the first time such an honour has been accorded to a performing artist, according to The Weekender newspaper.
The government has also opened books of condolences in Pretoria and Cape Town.
Saturday’s service was organised to allow the public to say a final farewell to Makeba before her body is cremated at a private funeral.