Miriam Makeba and Margaret Ekpo

Princess and Queens Part 2 – Black Women in Entertainment Who Shaped History – A N.I.P. Black History Feature

History is written by the victors” – Winston Churchill

The Mother of Africa – Miriam Makeba
One of the  prominently outspoken and visible opponent of South Africa’s apartheid regime was Miriam Makeba, also known as Mama Africa, and the Empress of African music. In the 1960s, she became the first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world and is best known for the song ‘Pata Pata’, which was first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967. In 1966 Makeba received a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for Evening with Belafonte/MakebaThe South African singer and civil rights activist, was also involved in radical activity against apartheid. Her album with Belafonte, dealt with the political plight of black South Africans under apartheid, and it was one of the first American albums to present traditional Zulu, Sotho and Swahili songs in an authentic setting. 

Makeba campaigned against the South African system of apartheid and in response, the government revoked her passport in 1960 and her citizenship and right of return to South Africa in 1963.  As the apartheid system crumbled she returned home for the first time in 1990. She said: 
“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.

Makeba died of a heart attack on November 9, 2008 after performing in a concert in Italy organised to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation local to the region of Campania.

The Fashionable Feminist – Margaret Ekpo
Margaret Ekpo was famous for being a fashionable woman who combined western and Nigerian fashion influences. Perhaps her background as a seamstress enabled her to even better express her ‘Afropolitan’ lifestyle via her clothing.  She loved ballroom dancing and was a devout Christian, but when it came to her political activism, which really is what she was about, she made sure uphold an image of Africaness, wearing traditional clothes and plaiting hair during political campaigns.

A few women can lay claim to as many legacies for their countrymen as Margaret Ekpo.  At the time of her death she left behind a legacy of ‘One Nigeria’, ‘Women in Politics’, ‘Women in Business and Leadership’ and ‘Emancipation for Women’

Excerpts: MSAfropolitan

A New Image Promotions publication in recognition of Black History Month February 2015

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