Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 - 10 November 2008) was a South African singer and civil rights activist. The Grammy Award winning artist is often referred to as Mama Afrika.
Makeba first toured with an amateur group. Her professional career began in the 1950s with the Manhattan Brothers, before she formed her own group, The Skylarks, singing a blend of jazz and traditional melodies of South Africa.
In 1959, she performed in the musical King Kong alongside Hugh Masekela, her future husband. Though she was a successful recording artist, she was only receiving a few dollars for each recording session and no provisional royalties, and was keen to go to the United States. Her break came when she had a short guest appearance in the anti-apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa in 1959 by independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. The short cameo made an enormous impression on the viewers and Lionel Rogosin managed to organise a visa for her to leave South Africa and to attend the premiere of the film at the Venice Film Festival.