Mama Miriam was one of the most beautiful, graceful, and sensual women of her generation and I really believe that she communicated with her eyes with every note she sang and every sentence she spoke. From the documentary that I have seen of her life called "Mama Africa," she seemed to own a very quiet, soft power and I admire her strength and her courage to stand up, speak out, and use her beautiful voice as an agent of change.
Mama Miriam was a very proud and dignified Xhosa woman and she loved her country so much that in 1963 she went in front of the United Nations General Assembly to tell the world about the evil system of Apartheid. She saw the people of her country struggle against the Apartheid system and she asked the world community to do everything in their power to help end this unjust system. She had done something very taboo– she went in front of the world and spoke out against her own country’s government. She was on a quest to speak of truth and justice and she wanted the South African government to be held accountable for its inhuman system.
Shortly after, the South African government responded by forcing her into exile. For Mama Miriam, speaking out against the injustice of Apartheid came at a huge cost – her South African citizenship. She would not set foot on the shores of the country she loved for nearly 30 years. Her albums were also banned from the people of her country.
In the face of this rejection by her home country’s government she continued on and sang for international audiences by bringing the exquisite Xhosa and Zulu cultures and languages to the global community. She continued to sing songs about the injustices of Apartheid and I believe that her heart was always in South Africa.
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he encouraged Mama Miriam to come home to South Africa. Finally, she was able to return to the place of her birth.
Mama Miriam inspires me so much because she is the epitome of grace and the definition of endurance. She was a walking essence of African culture and her music and voice for the people are timeless. I always loved her songs, and I listen to her music daily. However my admiration for her grew to the stars when I learned that she actually spoke in front of the United Nations General Assembly about the injustices endured by South African people under Apartheid. At a time when she could have easily given in to fear, she testified in front of the world and it resulted in her exile from her homeland. I do not know of many giants that would take a leap of faith as high as she did.
Mama Miriam inspires me to speak out even when I am afraid and for this she is my Inspiration Monday. One of my favorite songs is called "Emabhaceni." Listen and take in her extraordinary voice. Peace.