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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Miriam Makeba aka Mother Africa Draws Her Last Breath


MIRIAM MAKEBA, the Empress of African Soul collapsed on stage in Castel Volturno, Italy during a Sunday solidarity concert on behalf of six Ghanaians who immigrants who were shot to death several months ago.

She died on Monday from a heart attack at the local hospital.

To her dying day, she gave voice to those who no longer had a voice.

MIRIAM MAKEBA was born in South Africa on 03-04-32 and became a famous songtress of South African music and a vocal opponent of the Apartheid policies of the South African Government. After starring in an anti-government documentary that was filmed outside of the country and entitled; "Come back Africa" (1959) she was banned for over 30 years from returning to her home country. Becoming the most famous performer out of "Black Africa" she was called "Mama Africa".

I clearly remember as a kid my mother playing this strange rhythmic song called "Pata Pata." Although I didn't understand the language there was something in the quality of her voice that compelled me to listen. I would continue to listen for years.

It was followed by another strange (to African-American me) yet intriguing composition "The Click Song" ("Qongqothwane" in Xhosa), where she used a language composed of a tongue clicking sound which was and the native-speak in Xhosa. This was as educational as it was enthralling. Miriam Makeba used her gift of song to teach us new and important things about the world she inhabited, and those of us who listened, we were all the better for it.

In later years, it was she who inspired me to pen a poem that became my first piece published in the National magazine, Essence:

**"I dreamed you were
A Poem,
Composed in Makeba clicks
And hypnotic chants. I dreamed
You were
An ancient dance of
A poem."

During her career she had performed with several musical legends from around the world including NINA SIMONE, DIZZY GILLESPIE, PAUL SIMON & HARRY BELAFONTE. Her work with HARRY BELAFONTE lead to her 1960’s American Grammy Award. She also sang for world leaders such as the late President John F. Kennedy and South African President Nelson Mandela. During her personal life she was once married to South African trumpeter HUGH MASAKELA "Grazing in the Grass" (1968, #1 Pop/RnB) from 1964-66.

Also she was married to the Black Power Activist Stokely Carmichael from 1968-78. Carmichael changed his name to an Africanized one and became the President of the African Country of Guinea.

MIRIAM MAKEBA announced her retirement three years ago, but true to her art, the woman never stop performing. It was on her 75th birthday that said, she "would sing for as long as possible…..and will until the last day of my life!"

When one loves the beauty of their country, and yet decries its ugliness in song, in activism, and in the very spirit of their artistry, perhaps the best way to die is in expressing your soul in music before a crowd that loves and appreciate it.

Rest in Peace, Mother Africa!

One Love.

** excerpt from the poem "Art Groupie Exile," ~by L.M. Ross

After We Fuck (Recitation From my One- Act Play)

After we spark

After we talk

After we kiss…

After we touch

After that fit of

Magic happens between

Us... After we descend

Like slow and falling

Stars… After

Stripped virtues

Quickly depart

After the stardust

After the rush

After we bust

That final nut…

After our bellies

Fill with

Mild disgust

After the silence

What'll become of


After we've moaned

And groaned our

Frenetic groans...

Shivered in rivers

Then made excuses

To head home

After we've fucked

In the absence of lust

After night sucks passion

Like a Hoover Deluxe

Will what happened

To them

Ever happen to


After we fuck...

After we've fucked?

After we've howled

After we've screamed

After we've exchanged

These bodily fluids

After we’ve hummed

And come…

And made shit and dust

Of a Sacred Moment

Will tomorrow be implied

Inside this silent kiss

Or will tomorrow be…

Just another muscular


After the suck

After the ride

After the fuck

After the lies

After we've kissed

After we've touched

After we've descended

After we've fucked?

After we


That final nut…

After our bellies

Fill with mild



The Hoover night has

Sucked passion up…

Will what happened to

Those others

Ever happen to us…

After we’ve fucked?