MAKEBA: My Story by Miriam with James Hall Makeba
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MAKEBA: My Story

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this strong and songful autobiography, exiled South-African Makeba, who has not been allowed back into her country for the past 27 years, tells her life story as a singer who became renowned as ""Mama Africa."" Makeba was born in 1932, in Johannesburg, where the native Africans were treated like dirt. Makeba, however, showed early promise as a singer, and after many degrading jobs as a servant fell in with a singing group whose records made her known nationally. She also became famous on billboards throughout South Africa and neighboring countries as a Coca-Cola model. Eventually, American filmmaker Lionel Rogosin, secretly shooting a story of black life in Johannesburg, included her among a cast of amateurs. When the film won the top award at the Venice Film Festival, Rogosin arranged a passport for her, and she left her mother, daughter, and family to fly to Venice. The film was so controversial, however, that Makeba's passport was revoked; she entered permanent exile. Later, her daughter was allowed to join her in the US. Her career shepherded by Harry Belafonte, she became a cabaret star and smash hit, even singing at JFK's famed birthday party. Her five husbands include trumpeter Hugh Masekela and black firebrand Stokely Carmichael, whose violent ideas shrank her recording career. Her beloved daughter died in childbirth after a life troubled by mental problems, and then her grandson died. Makeba now resides in Guinea and is still an anti-apartheid activist, though she has visited America as part of Paul Simon's ""Graceland"" tour. Powerful and moving. Deserves a wide audience.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1987
Publisher: New American Library