South African singing legend Miriam Makeba, FAO Goodwill Ambassador, has died aged 76, after being taken ill by an heart attack in Italy.
She had just taken part in a concert near the Southern town of Caserta dedicated to Roberto Saviano, the author of a book on the camorra.
The legendary Mama Africa was appointed an FAO Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and had a longstanding commitment to humanitarian issues. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, her fearless campaigning against inequality and injustice has added to the worldwide fame she had already won for her vocal talents. Ms Makeba has travelled throughout Africa to give voice to millions of suffering people. Drawing on her own funds, she set up a foundation in Johannesburg to care for needy young South African women.
In 2001 she was awarded the Gold Otto Hahn Peace Medal by the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin, "for outstanding services to peace and international understanding", in the light of her tireless struggle against apartheid in her country.
Mama Africa tirelessly spoke out against the violence, inequality and disease that kept many people, especially women and children, living in conditions of extreme poverty. Her energy and her sincere concern for the world's most vulnerable will be deeply missed.
She was the first African woman to win a Grammy Award, in 1965.
Ms Makeba dedicated a song, Masakahane, to FAO and has participated in various events and concerts organized by FAO, such as the Jamaica and Spain WFD/TeleFood concerts in 1999, and the South Africa concert in 2000. In April 2001, Ms. Makeba visited FAO post-emergency projects in Mozambique, increasing the visibility and impact of FAO’s activities in Africa.
Since her appointment as Goodwill Ambassador, Ms Makeba has been a strong and tireless FAO advocate.
In March 2008, Ms. Makeba carried out an official mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo during which she visited FAO emergency projects. The visit, during which Ms. Makeba also participated in various press conferences, gave international visibility to FAO’s activities in the country.
Following the duty travel, Ms. Makeba has been awarded the price "International Award for Social Engagement", in her capacity as FAO Goodwill Ambassador, for the work done and commitment towards helping women victims of sexual violence in the DR of Congo.
'You sing about those things that surround you" said Mama Africa.."In every community, in every nation, people are doing little and big things to help make a better world. Think of what has been accomplished to date: space exploration; satellite communications; heart transplants. Today, we have managed to do what previous generations never dreamed of. But, you see, today, around the world, 923 million people still don't have enough to eat. And it doesn't have to be this way."
......Miriam Makeba remembered