Johannesburg, March 20, 2013 – South Africa’s National Heritage Council will Wednesday night honour the late Miriam Makeba popularly known as Mama Africa with one of its highest award called Ubuntu.
The National Heritage Council CEO, Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, told SABC’s Morning Live that previously the award had been given to former South African president, Nelson Mandela, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda.
Mancotywa said the late Makeba had not been celebrated in South Africa despite that she had touched so many lives.
Mancotywa said a team of eminent citizens of South Africa use a rigorous process and a well established criteria of selecting recipients of this prestigious award and this year Makeba was chosen ahead of former Tanzania’s president Julius Mwalimu Nyerere.
“The two were not comparable…but here is somebody who was fearless and made a statement,” said Mancotywa in reference to the late Makeba, a late grammy award winner and an anti-apartheid acvist.
He said the late Makeba was in 1960 stripped of her citizenship by the apartheid government for participating in a documentary called Come back Africa.
Her actions earned her the wrath of the apartheid government and her passport was taken from her and she was forced to stay in exile where she became like a mother accepting young South Africans in exile in her home, who were facing hardships.
She lived in New York, Guinea and Ghana among other places in the world.
Mancotywa described the late musical icon as not only a cultural ambassador but a political activist who had earned the respect of the United Nations after her 1963 famous speech on violence against women and girls. She later established a centre of girls.
Wednesday night’s award ceremony will see the National Heritage Council pledging 100 000 rands towards the Miriam Makeba Insititute to be based in Midrands.
Mancotywa called on the corporate world to contribute to the institute.