Monday, January 22, 2018

The Second Women's March.

Starving Gaza one tunnel at a time

Miriam Makeba's Later Life.

During her exile, Miriam Makeba’s musical career increased greatly in America. She signed with the recording label RCA Victor. Later, she released her first studio album entitled, Miriam Makeba in 1960. It was backed by Belafonte’s band. RCA chose to buy out Makeba’s contract with Gallotone Records. This was despite the fact that Makeba couldn’t perform in South Africa back then. Gallotone received US$45,000 in the deal, which meant that Makeba received no royalties for her debut album. The album included one of her most famous hits in the US, "Qongqothwane", which was known in English as "The Click Song" because Makeba's audiences could not pronounce the Xhosa name. Time magazine called her the "most exciting new singing talent to appear in many years," and Newsweek compared her voice to "the smoky tones and delicate phrasing" of Ella Fitzgerald and the "intimate warmth" of Frank Sinatra. Since the album wasn’t commercially successful, Makeba was briefly dropped from the RCA label. She was re-signed soon after as the label recognized the commercial possibilities of the growing American interest in African culture. Her South African identity was downplayed during her first singing, but it was strongly empathized the second time as a representation of increased interest. Makeba made many appearances on television, often with Belafonte. In 1962, Miriam Makeba and Belafonte sang at the birthday party for U.S. President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, but Makeba didn’t go to the party afterwards because she was ill. Kennedy nevertheless insisted on meeting her, so Belafonte sent a car to pick her up.  In 1964, Makeba released her second studio album for RCA called, The World of Miriam Makeba. An early example of world music, the album peaked at number eighty-six on the Billboard 200. Makeba’s music had a cross racial appeal in America. Black Americans, white Americans, and other Americans were fans of her. Black African Americans related our experiences of racial segregation to Makeba’s struggle against apartheid. She was friends and allies with many African exiles and emigres in New York City like Hugh Masekela. She married him from 1963 to 1968. During their marriage, Makeba and Masekela were neighbors of the jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie in Englewood, New Jersey. They spent much of their time in Harlem. She came to know actors like Marlon Brando and Lauren Bacall plus musicians like Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles.  Fellow singer-activist Nina Simone became friendly with Makeba along with actress Cicely Tyson. Makeba and Simone performed together at Carnegie Hall. 

Miriam Makeba was among the black entertainers, activists, and intellectuals in New York City at that time who believed that the civil rights movement and popular culture could reinforce each other to create “a sense of intertwined political and cultural vibrancy.” Other people who believed in this true ideal were Maya Angelou and Sidney Poitier. She later described about her difficulty living with Jim Crow apartheid in America. She said that, "There wasn't much difference in America; it was a country that had abolished slavery but there was apartheid in its own way.” She continued to travel and promote activism. Her music was popular in Europe too. She toured and performed there. She added songs from Latin America, Europe, Israel, and in Africa to her repertoire via the advice from Belafonte. She visited Kenya in 1962 in support of the country’s independence from British colonial rule. She also raised funds for its independence leader Jomo Kenyatta. Later in 1962, she testified before the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid about the effects of the system. She wanted economic sanctions against South Africa’s National Party government. She requested an arms embargo against South Africa, because the weapons sold to the government would likely be used against black women and children. Later, South Africa banned her music. Her South African citizenship and right to return were revoked. So, Makeba was a stateless person. She was soon issued passports by Algeria, Guinea, Belgium, and Ghana. Throughout her life, she held nine passports. She was granted honorary citizenship in ten countries.   Soon after her testimony to the United Nations, Haile Selassie or the emperor of Ethiopia, invited her to sing at the inauguration of the Organization of African Unity. She was the only performer to be invited. As the fact of her ban from South Africa, she was a well-known. She was a cause célébre for Western liberals, and her presence in the African-American civil rights movement provided a link between that movement and the anti-apartheid struggle. In 1964, she was taught the song "Malaika" by a Kenyan student while backstage at a performance in San Francisco; the song later became a staple of her performances. 

Throughout the 1960’s, Miriam Makeba strengthened her involvement in a wide range of black-centered political movements. She worked in support of the civil rights, anti-apartheid, Black Consciousness, and Black Power movements. She briefly met the Trinidadian American activist Kwame Ture (his original name was Stokely Carmichael). Kwame Ture was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and an ally in the Black Panther Party for years. Belafonte invited Ture to one of Makeba’s concerts. They met again in Conakry six years later. They entered a romantic relationship. It was initially secret from all but their closest friends and family. Makeba was involved in fundraising activities for many civil rights groups including a benefit concert for the 1962 Southern Christian Leadership Conference that civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as “the event of the year.”  Following a concert and rally in Atlanta in support of King, Makeba and others were denied entrance to a restaurant as a result of Jim Crow laws, leading to a televised protest in front of the establishment. She also criticized King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference for its investment in South African companies, informing press that "Now my friend of long standing supports the country's persecution of my people and I must find a new idol.”  Her identity as an African woman in the US civil rights movement helped create "an emerging liberal consensus" that extreme racial discrimination, whether domestically or internationally, was harmful. Also, Dr. King oppos4ed apartheid and supported Nelson Mandela too. In 1964 she testified at the UN for a second time, quoting a song by Vanessa Redgrave in calling for quick action against the South African government. In 1966, both Makeba and Belafonte received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording for An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. The album dealt with the plight of black South Africans under apartheid. It had songs that were critical of the South African government like "Ndodemnyama we Verwoerd" ("Watch our Verwoerd", a reference to Hendrik Verwoerd, one of the architects of apartheid). It sold greatly. Makeba’s profile increased in America. Belafonte and Makeba’s concert tour following its release was often sold out and the album has been described as the best they made together. Makeba used lyrics in Swahili, Xhosa, and Sotho. American audiences loved her for her love of her African heritage. In 1967, more than ten years after she first recorded the song, the single "Pata Pata" was released in the US on an album of the same title, and became a worldwide hit. During its recording, she and Belafonte had a disagreement, after which they stopped recording together. 

Miriam Makeba and Kwame Ture married in March of 1968. There was a backlash against this, but Miriam is her own black woman who has the right to marry who she wanted. Her popularity in America started to decline. Conservatives viewed her as a militant and extremist. Her performances were cancelled and her coverage in the press declined despite her efforts to portray her marriage as apolitical. Many American audiences stopped supporting her. The U.S. government took an interest in her activities. The Central Intelligence Agency started to follow her and placed hidden microphones in her apartment. The FBI also placed her under surveillance. While she and Kwame Ture (her new husband) traveled in the Bahamas, she was banned from returning to the United States. She was refused a visa. As a result, the couple moved into Guinea in Africa. That is where Kwame called himself Kwame Ture. Makeba didn’t return to America until 1987. Guinea remained Makeba’s home for the next 15 years. She and her husband became close to President Ahmed Sekou Toure and his wife, Andree. Touré wanted to create a new style of African music, and all musicians received a minimum wage if they practiced for several hours every day. Makeba later stated that "I've never seen a country that did what Sékou Touré did for artists.” After her rejection from the US she began to write music more directly critical of the US government's racial policies, recording and singing songs such as "Lumumba" in 1970, (referring to Patrice Lumumba, the assassinated Prime Minister of the Congo), and "Malcolm X" in 1974. During this time, she performed more frequently in African countries. More African nations became independent of European colonial powers. She was invited to sing at independence ceremonies in places like Kenya, Angola, Zambia, Tanganyika, and Mozambique. By September 1974, she performed alongside a multitude of well-known African and American musicians at the Zaire 74 festivals in Kinshasa, Zaire (formerly the Congo). She also was a diplomat for Ghana. She was appointed Guinea’s official delegate to the UN in 1975.

She addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 1975. She performed in Europe and in Asia. She didn’t perform in America where there was a de facto boycott in effect. In Africa, she was very popular. She was the highlight of FESTAC 77, which was a Pan-African arts festival in Nigeria in 1977. During a Liberian performance of “Pata Pata,” the stadium was so loud that she was unable to complete the song. “Pata Pata” and her other songs were banned in South Africa. During this period, she sang the song of “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” She never recorded the song. Makeba later said that during this period, she accepted the label of Mama Africa. In 1976, the South African government replaced English with Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in all schools. This caused the Soweto uprising where black children wanted to promote their own black South African identity. Between 15,000 and 20,000 students took part, caught unprepared, the police opened fire on the protesting children. The police killed hundreds of black people including injuring over a thousand.  Hugh Masekela wrote “Soweto Blues’ in response to the massacre of innocent black people. The song was performed by Makeba and it was a staple of her live performances for many years. A review in the magazine Musician said that the song had "searingly righteous lyrics" about the uprising that "cut to the bone." In 1973, she was separated from Kwame Ture. In 1978, they divorced and in 1980, she married Bageot Bah, an airline executive.

Miriam Makeba’s daughter named Bongi was a singer in her own right. She accompanied her mother on stage. She died in childbirth in 1985. Makeba was left responsible for her two grandchildren. She moved out of Guinea. She settled in the Woluwe-Saint-Lambert district of the Belgian capital of Brussels. In 1986, Masekela introduced Makeba to Paul Simon (who is a famous American singer). In a few months later, she embarked on Simon’s very successful Graceland Tour. The tour concluded with 2 concerts held in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was filed in 1987 of the release of Graceland: The African Concert. After touring the world with Simon, Warner Bros. Records signed Makeba and she released Sangoma ("Healer"), an album of healing chants named in honor of her sangoma mother. Her involvement with Simon caused controversy: Graceland had been recorded in South Africa, breaking the cultural boycott of the country, and thus Makeba's participation in the tour was regarded as contravening the boycott (which Makeba herself endorsed). When she prepared for the Graceland tour, she started on her autobiography. She worked with journalist James Hall. Her autobiography was entitled, “Makeba: My Story.” The book shown information about her experiences involving apartheid and the criticism by her of the commodification and consumerism she experienced in America. The book was translated into five languages. She took part in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute. This was a popular music concert that took place on June 11, 1988 at London’s Wembley Stadium. It was broadcast to an audience of 600 million across 67 countries. The political aspects of the concert were heavily censored in the U.S. by the Fox television network. The use of music was used to raise awareness about the evil of apartheid. A survey after the concert found that among young people between the ages of 16 and 24, three quarters knew of Nelson Mandela and supported his release from prison. After growing pressure from the anti-apartheid movement domestically and internationally, State President Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1990 reversed the ban on the African National Congress (plus other anti-apartheid organizations). He announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison.  Mandela was released in February of 1990. Mandela persuaded Makeba to return to South Africa, which she did, using her French passport on June 10, 1990.

By Timothy

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Converting PDF Files into Doc files

Timelines of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (in South Africa)

Timelines of World War I

One year after the Trump disaster