Every Wednesday I will be introducing great kizomba artists from the PALOP community that usually don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
Kizomba music comes from all over the PALOP community, not just Angola. All mixes between zouk and Afro rhythms (not to be confused with Afro-house) are normally called kizomba, amongst PALOPS, regardless if the artists or bands are from Guiné-Bissau, Cabo-Verde, São Tomé and Prince, Mozambique or even the Congo (which is not a PALOP country).
This week I will be diverting slightly from my normal focus to feature an artist that is an important music culture figure for all African countries for two reasons. One being that she was the first African to popularize African music around the world and the second reason is for her admirable work as a civil rights activist.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba (March 4th, 1932 – November 9th, 2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer and civil rights activist.
In the 1960s, she was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world. She is best known for the song “Pata Pata”, first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967. She recorded and toured with many popular artists, such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and her former husband Hugh Masekela.
Makeba campaigned against the South African system of apartheid. The South African government responded by revoking her passport in 1960 and her citizenship and right of return in 1963. As the apartheid system crumbled she returned home for the first time in 1990.
Makeba died of a heart attack on November 9th, 2008 after performing in a concert in Italy organized to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organization local to the region of Campania.
My music picks:
NOTE: PALOP – Portuguese-speaking African countries, also referred to as Lusophone Africa, consists of six African countries in which the Portuguese language is an official language: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe. Besides having a common language, the five former colonies of the Portuguese Empire share a strong “cultural identity, a similar system of governance and a long tradition of contacts and exchanges amongst themselves”. In 1992, the five Lusophone African countries formed an interstate organization called PALOP, a colloquial acronym that translates to African Countries of Portuguese Official Language (In Portuguese: Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). The PALOP countries signed official agreements with Portugal, the European Union and the United Nations, and they work together to promote the development of culture and education and the preservation of the Portuguese language. Together with Portugal and Brazil in 1996, the Portuguese-speaking African countries established the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (Portuguese: Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, abbreviated to CPLP).