Powerful Miriam Makeba Quotes that will always be Remembered

In this post, I’ve compiled some of the most memorable Miriam Makeba quotes.

Zenzile Miriam Makeba, often known as Mama Africa, was born on March 4, 1932 and died on November 9, 2008. She was a South African singer, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. She was an outspoken opponent of apartheid in South Africa and was associated with musical genres such as Afropop, jazz, and world music.

Makeba’s vocal talent was discovered as a child, and she began singing professionally in the 1950s, with the Cuban Brothers, the Manhattan Brothers, and an all-woman group called the Skylarks, who sang a blend of jazz, traditional African tunes, and Western popular music.

Makeba’s brief appearance in the anti-apartheid film Come Back, Africa in 1959 gained her worldwide recognition and led to performances in Venice, London, and New York . She relocated to New York City, where she quickly became successful, and released her debut solo album in 1960. Her effort to return to South Africa for her mother’s burial that year was blocked by the country’s government.

Makeba’s career took off in the United States, where she released a number of albums and singles, the most famous of which was “Pata Pata” (1967). For her 1965 album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba, she and Belafonte shared a Grammy Award. She testified before the United Nations against the South African government and became active in the civil rights struggle.

In 1968, she married Stokely Carmichael, a Black Panther Party leader. As a result, she lost white Americans’ support. Her visa was revoked by the US government while she was traveling abroad, forcing her and her husband to relocate to Guinea. She kept performing, especially in African countries, including multiple independence ceremonies.

Makeba was one of the first African artists to achieve worldwide recognition. She  introduced African music to a Western audience. She also performed various anti-apartheid songs. In 1999, she was appointed a UN goodwill ambassador and fought for humanitarian causes. She died of a heart attack during a concert in Italy in 2008.

26 Miriam Makeba Quotes

  1. “The conqueror writes history, they came, they conquered and they write. You don’t expect the people who came to invade us to tell the truth about us…”

2. “Age is wisdom if one has lived ones life properly.”

 3. “If given a choice, I would have certainly selected to be what I am: one of the oppressed instead of one of the oppressors.”

4. “I didn’t have much, but I was always happy to share what I did have. It seemed like every African that came to New York City would show up at my apartment door at dinnertime, and I couldn’t turn them away. I wasn’t much older than any of them, but they started calling me ‘Mama Africa’ and the name stuck.”

5. “Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them”

6. “Girls are the future mothers of our society, and it is important that we focus on their well-being.”

7. “I do not sing politics. I merely sing the truth.”

6. “Age is getting to know all the ways the world turns, so that if you cannot turn the world the way you want, you can at least get out of the way so you won’t get run over.”

7. “I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa and the people without even realising,”

8. “For instance, we’re always fighting amongst each other. Who gives us the arms? And then we become indebted to wherever we are buying them from – with what? The very resources we need to keep there.”

9. “I’m not a politician; I am a singer. Long ago, they said, ‘That one, she sings politics.’ I don’t sing politics; I merely sing the truth.”

10. “Be careful, think about the effect of what you say. Your words should be constructive, bring people together, not pull them apart.”

11. “The tragedy of civil wars in countries like Angola and Mozambique is that they left many civilians maimed. Poverty is the reason HIV/AIDS spread so rapidly in the African townships and slums. Poverty is the real killer.”

12. “In the mind, in the heart, I was always home. I always imagined, really, going back home.”

13. “I look at an ant and I see myself: a native South African, endowed by nature with a strength much greater than my size so I might cope with the weight of a racism that crushes my spirit.”

14. “I titled the album Reflections because I am reflecting on my music career.”

miriam makeba quotes

15. “It was hard to be away from home, but I am glad that I am home now.”

16. “I see other black women imitate my style, which is no style at all, but just letting our hair be itself. They call it the Afro Look.”

17. “You are damned and praised, or encouraged or discouraged by those who listen to you, and those who come to applaud you. And to me, those people are very important.”

18. “In the West the past is like a dead animal. It is a carcass picked at by the flies that call themselves historians and biographers. But in my culture the past lives. My people feel this way in part because death does not separate us from our ancestors.”

19. “I have one thing in common with the emerging black nations of Africa: We both have voices, and we are discovering what we can do with them.”

20. “And I believe that it becomes a troubled continent because there are those who must always cause confusion so that we do not keep these natural resources.”

21. “Everybody now admits that apartheid was wrong, and all I did was tell the people who wanted to know where I come from how we lived in South Africa. I just told the world the truth. And if my truth then becomes political, I can’t do anything about that.”

23. “And why is our music called world music? I think people are being polite. What they want to say is that it’s third world music. Like they use to call us under developed countries, now it has changed to developing countries, it’s.”

24. “There are a lot of homes for boys, but very few for girls, that is why I chose to do for girls.”

25. “There are three things I was born with in this world, and there are three things I will have until the day I die-hope, determination, and song.”

26. “It was not a ban from the government. It was a cancellation by people who felt I should not be with Stokely because he was a rebel to them. I didn’t care about that. He was somebody I loved, who loved me, and it was my life.”

My favorite Miriam Makeba Quotes are, “Age is wisdom if one has lived ones life properly.” and “The conqueror writes history, they came, they conquered and they write. You don’t expect the people who came to invade us to tell the truth about us…”

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