10 November 2008, Rome – The sudden death of South African singer and human rights activist Miriam Makeba, 76, has claimed the voice of one of FAO’s most dedicated advocates, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said today.
“For nearly a decade, FAO Goodwill Ambassador Miriam Makeba was a strong supporter of FAO’s fight to reduce hunger and improve the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said on learning of Makeba’s death.
“Mama Africa spoke out against the violence, inequality and disease that kept many people, especially women and children, living in conditions of extreme poverty. We will miss her energy and her respectful concern for the world’s most vulnerable,” Diouf said.
Makeba had been an FAO Goodwill Ambassador since 1999. Over the years, she had participated in a long list of events and concerts organized by FAO, including performances to raise funds for FAO TeleFood projects in South Africa, Jamaica and Spain.
Makeba was active in FAO’s communications campaigns against hunger, both in interviews with the international news media and through public service announcements.
In April 2001, Makeba visited FAO post-emergency projects in Mozambique, increasing the visibility and impact of FAO’s activities in Africa.
On her last official mission on behalf of FAO, in March 2008, Makeba travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to visit FAO emergency projects designed to help survivors of violence and HIV positive women and men feed their families and revive their livelihoods through farming.