RIP Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 10 November 2008)

Miriam Makeba, the world-renowned South African singer, has died at the age of 76 after being taken ill near the southern Italian town of Caserta.

Makeba died on Monday after taking part in a concert for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the mafia, an Italian news agency said.

“I’m not yet absolutely certain of the causes of her passing, but she has had arthritis, severe arthritis, for some time,” her publicist told an Italian radio station.

Makeba was best known to her fans as ‘Mama Africa’ as she became the distinguished voice of Africa and a symbol of the fight against apartheid in her home country.

Everyone called her Mama Afrika. Her voice was like a bird singing in a cage. Many of us grew up listening to her proud music. She was a steady fighter against racism and discrimination in her native South Africa. I will miss Miriam Makeba, as will a lot of other people in the world. Words escape me.