5 Things that Should be in the Miriam Makeba Biopic

16 January 2017 Articles Film Latest Most Popular

By Nomali Cele

Africa has numerous music icons. Very few come close to the legendary status of the late, great Miriam Makeba. It was announced in November 2016, eight years since her passing in 2008, that our Mama Africa will be the subject of a biopic that’s currently in development. Aside from casting concerns, the script and storyline itself is a big concern for those interested in preserving Makeba’s legacy.

King Kong in Johannesburg

In 1959, Miriam Makeba, along with many other jazz people such as Thandi Klassen and Hugh Masekela were part of the musical King Kong. Her most notable career breakthrough came in that same year when Makeba went to the Venice Film festival to receive an award for the film Come Back Africa. After Venice, she decided not to return to South Africa. This part of the story will give viewers insight of her career beginnings and the political climate that drove so many young artists away.

Makeba in New York

In Makeba’s biography, MaKeba: My Story, there’s a scene where Makeba, newly settled in New York, is moving or running errands. She’s also babysitting a friend’s child so she straps the baby to her back – as she did with young siblings and then her own daughter Bongi – while carrying something on her head. It would be amazing to see her as a young woman, finding her feet in New York, meeting her later-mentor, Harry Belafonte.

Makeba at the United Nations

In 1963, Makeba appeared before the United Nations assembly to, in a way, present black people’s case. There she was, putting a face and voice to the atrocities of apartheid.

Her Love with Stokely Carmichael

When Makeba settled into her life in the United States, she began a relationship with Black Panther, Stokely Carmichael. They were together for 10 years. It would be interesting to see their relationship dynamic and Makeba as a woman in love.

Makeba Mention Carmichael while performing Malaika

Makeba’s relationship with her daughter

When Makeba was 17 years old, she fell pregnant with her only child, Angela Sibongile Makeba, usually called Bongi. This is the same daughter she left behind here in South Africa when the apartheid government revoked her passport. Bongi joined her mother in New York in 1960. It’s always felt as though Makeba was nursing heartbreak where her daughter, who died at the age of 34, was concerned.

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