Miriam Makeba: The Inspiring Legacy Behind Jain's Hit Song "Makeba"

Miriam Makeba, the influential singer and activist known as "Mama Africa," inspired Jain's hit song "Makeba." Makeba's music and advocacy against apartheid continue to resonate, highlighting the power of music for social change.

Harnur Watta
New Update
Image credits: New Frame

Image credits: New Frame

In a world where music transcends boundaries, it is often fascinating to delve into the origins of popular songs that capture our hearts. One such catchy melody that captivated the audience was the hit “Makeba” by artist Jain.

However, what many may not be aware of is the incredible legacy of the woman who inspired this modern anthem: the legendary Miriam Makeba, an icon who used her platform to champion social justice causes.

Who is Miriam Makeba?

Miriam Makeba, affectionately known as "Mama Africa," quickly rose to prominence as an international icon, being recognised for her unparalleled talent and unique vocal style, during a time of great turmoil and oppression. Makeba fearlessly used her platform to speak out against the injustices of apartheid, a system of racial segregation enforced by the South African government at the time.

Her talent and unwavering commitment to justice caught the attention of audiences worldwide. Makeba's music became a powerful tool in the fight for equality, and she became a symbol of hope for oppressed communities.

Her breakthrough on the global stage came when she starred in the documentary Come Back, Africa, which exposed the world to the harsh realities of apartheid-era South Africa. This film became a powerful tool for raising awareness about racial segregation and discrimination, and it was a turning point in Makeba's life. She vowed to use her voice not only to entertain but also to advocate for change.

Makeba fearlessly testified against apartheid before the United Nations, advocating for economic sanctions and an arms embargo on South Africa. This brave stance, following the Sharpeville Massacre, led to the banning of her music in South Africa, revocation of her citizenship, and statelessness. Yet, she continued her journey, acquiring passports from Algeria, Guinea, Belgium, and Ghana. Her resilience and involvement in civil rights and anti-apartheid struggles earned her honorary citizenship in ten countries. She took her activism to new heights, collaborating with artists like Harry Belafonte and performing at iconic venues such as the United Nations.


A perfect tribute  

Fast forward to the present day, Jain, a talented artist in her own right, found inspiration in the remarkable story and music of Miriam Makeba. Her chart-topping hit, "Makeba," serves as a tribute to this incredible woman, paying homage to the legendary artist who paved the way for so many.

Jain's song celebrates the spirit of Mama Africa, and it has sparked a resurgence of interest in the legacy of Miriam Makeba. 

“I wanna see you sing, I wanna see you fight, Cause you are the real beauty of human rights”

Young audiences who may have been unfamiliar with Makeba's contributions are now exploring her extensive catalogue and learning about her indelible impact on the world.

From her anthemic anti-apartheid songs like "Pata Pata" and "Soweto Blues" to her soul-stirring rendition of "Malaika," Makeba's music continues to inspire and move people across the globe.


As Jain's song continues to spike interest, let us take a moment to remember and honour the original inspiration behind "Makeba." Miriam Makeba's legacy lives on through her music and her tireless dedication to social justice. She remains an ever-present force, reminding us all that music can be a powerful catalyst for change and a beacon of hope in times of darkness.

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music Miriam Makeba Apartheid