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'Mama Afrika' retires with world tour -

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(generated from captions) And an end to one of the big

chapters in the history of Australian architecture. Mark Bannerman with that report. For more than 40 years, Miriam Makebahas been the voice of Africa. Born in a Johannesburg township and raised during the brutal apartheid era, her voice raised her to the world stage, where she performed with the likes of Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone and later, Paul Simon.

But she also paid a heavy price for her success. In 1960, the South African Government banned her music and revoked her passport. Forced into exile, she was feted for her music and her humanitarian deeds by world leaders from John F. Kennedy to Fidel Castro. Now 74, the woman known as 'Mama Africa'

is retiring with a farewell world tour, including Australia. Mike Sexton reports. I sing about life in general. I've known love, I've known unhappiness, I've known happiness. And when I say 'love', "I don't mean I love you baby", I mean love for people. In her 74 years, Miriam Makeba has been many things - township child, domestic servant, legendary singer, human rights activist, and now elder stateswoman, truly earning her nickname 'Mama Africa'. The best word I can use to describe her is actually a Maori word called 'mana' which means in effect personal power or presence or stature, and she's a woman with an enormous amount of mana. There was always music at home, and music in Sunday school, music in school and music in church, so I always liked music from when I was very small. Miriam Makeba's pure voice and musical versatility made her a teenage star in South Africa. By the early '60s she was in America recording, with greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone and Harry Belafonte, with whom she shared a Grammy Award. She was lauded in jazz clubs across the world, like this one in Stockholm in 1966. Unbeknown to her, that gig was filmed by Swedish television and after 40 years gathering dust in an archive, was recently rediscovered. I wished I could rewind my life, because it looked quite nice and I wore a beautiful leopard skin dress, real leopard skin. The skin was given to me by the late president Jo Kenyatta from Kenya when I went there in 1962. But in a post-concert interview, she explained the difficulties of performing to audiences in the West who were ignorant or uninterested in African issues. They usually don't want to be reminded of the ugly things in this world. They get away to come and enjoy themselves, and I usually feel I shouldn't hit hem on the head with a hammer. I at least try to inject a little message here and there. Subtly, if I can. But then again I was labelled "that one who sings politics" and that's when I said, "I don't sing politics, I just sing about life in general." And the things that happened to me and around me.

Although denying she was a political singer, the South African Government was offended by Miriam Makeba's criticisms while overseas and in 1960 her passport was cancelled, forcing her into a 30-year exile. Two years later, her music was banned. She became more outspoken when she moved to America and when her marriage to musician Hugh Masakela ended, she a married Stokely Carmichael, the leader of the radical Black Panthers. As a result her US recording contracts were cancelled and concert bookings dried up. I went to live in Guinea. From Guinea, I went to all the other countries in the world performing and I met people who accepted me for who I am, what I am and didn't care who I am married to. But even in exile, Miriam Makeba's music was still rooted in her home country. And as explained in the 2002 documentary 'Amandla', she helped provide the soundtrack to the struggle against oppression. (Sings) I did feel bad not being home while people were suffering at home. I was not there, but it makes me feel good that they also feel that wherever I was, I had not forgotten them. The exile ended in 1990, and amid the overflowing joy

there was the deep sadness of what she'd missed over 30 years, including her mother's funeral. So they took me straight to her grave and the emotions there - everybody was crying. After half a century, Miriam Makeba is on her farewell tour. She says her bones are telling her they're tired and it's time to rest. But while she never set out to be anything other than an entertainer, her extraordinary life has made her a symbol of a successful struggle. People should learn to forgive, but not forget. Because if you forget t might happen again. You should always be on guard that it doesn't happen again, and work for it never to happen again.