In the 1960s she was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world. She is best known for the song "Pata Pata", first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967. She recorded and toured with many popular artists, such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and her former husband Hugh Masekela.
Makeba campaigned against the South African system of apartheid. The South African government responded by revoking her passport in 1960 and her citizenship and right of return in 1963.
...Makeba then travelled to London where she met Harry Belafonte, who assisted her in gaining entry to the United States and achieving fame there. When she tried to return to South Africa in 1960 for her mother's funeral, she discovered that her South African passport had been cancelled. She signed with RCA Victor and released Miriam Makeba, her first U.S. studio album, in 1960. In 1962, Makeba and Belafonte sang at John F. Kennedy's birthday party at Madison Square Garden, but Makeba did not go to the aftershow party because she was ill. President Kennedy insisted on meeting her, so Belafonte sent a car to pick her up and she met the President of the United States
As the apartheid system crumbled she returned home for the first time in 1990.
I always wanted to leave home. I never knew they were going to stop me from coming back. Maybe, if I knew, I never would have left. It is kind of painful to be away from everything that you've ever know. Nobody will know the pain of exile until you are in exile. No matter where you go, there are times when people show you kindness and love, and there are times when they make you know that you are with them but not of them. That's when it hurts.
When I was young, I never bought records because my brother Joseph played saxophone and had a record player. I loved listening to his records: The Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, all the big American jazz bands, and vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Ernestine Anderson, and Kitty White, a singer from the US who was a friend of Nina Simone. Nobody in America seems to know about her, but she was quite popular in South Africa
My concerts were canceled left and right. Speaking about South African Apartheid was fine, but they were suddenly afraid I might speak about American Apartheid, although I never did. Bookers told me that my shows would finance radical activities and [Reprise Records] told me they were not going to honor my recording contract. I didn’t say anything, but if I was married to a troublemaker, I must be a troublemaker. I’d already lived in exile for 10 years, and the world is free, even if some of the countries in it aren’t, so I packed my bags and left
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
The man at the desk took my passport. He did not speak to me. He took a rubber stamp and slammed it down. Then he walked away. I picked up my passport. It was stamped 'Invalid'. 'They have done it,' I told myself. 'They have exiled me. I am not permitted to go home — not now, maybe not ever. My family, my home. Everything that has gone into the making of myself, gone
I look at an ant and see myself: a native South African, endowed with a strength much greater than my size, so I might cope with the weight of racism that crushes my spirit
Her Website is here,
And below is the Pata Pata song that lifts my spirit