In the year which marks 30 years since the official end of South African apartheid, when Nelson Mandela was elected as the country’s first Black President, Zimbabwean-born singer, musician and storyteller, Anna Mudeka, presents her UK tour of Mama Afrika: Hope, Determination and Song.
The show is a moving and spiritual account of the life of an iconic South African singer, songwriter and anti-apartheid activist, Dr Miriam Makeba.
Mudeka tells the remarkable story of the woman who became known as Mama Afrika, charting her rise from the townships of South Africa to global star, forced into exile for her stand against apartheid and marginalised for championing Black rights.
Told in four acts that define critical stages of Makeba’s life, Mama Afrika chronicles the seismic personal and political events that came to shape the famous music and voice. With her intimate knowledge of singing in many languages including Swahili, Xhosa, Sothu and Zulu, Anna Mudeka’s solo performance navigates an epic story through well known songs, including Mbube, Pata Pata and Soweto Blues.
From a rising star exploding onto the international stage, introducing western audiences to African music, we follow the story after the Sharpeville massacre sparks a political awakening and uncompromising stance against apartheid leading to Miriam Makeba’s exile in the United States.
Shunned by the American establishment for aligning with the civil rights movement and marrying a Black Panther Party leader, Stokely Carmichael, we find Makeba displaced in Guinea.
Her renaissance follows as Mama Afrika. Celebrated for championing the Pan African cause and welcomed back to South Africa in the 1990s where, together with the release of Nelson Mandela, her music continues to heal the soul of her homeland.
Produced for family audiences, this story is one that deserves to be shared with younger generations. Mama Afrika stays true to the ancestral traditions from which Makeba’s extraordinarily rich repertoire was born.
Mama Afrika was first developed to mark what would have been Makeba’s 90th birthday on 4th March 2022; the performer and activist died on 9th November 2008.
Mama Afrika is conceived and performed by Anna Mudeka and scripted by Zimbabwean writer Tomas Lutuli Brickhill. Featuring a global production team including musical direction and special sound effects by John Vigar at Tontena Music (UK), song backing tracks recorded by multi-instrumentalist Ziva Guveya (Zimbabwe), direction by Tonia Daley-Campbell (Jamaica), lighting design by Carmen Wright (Jamaica), voice coach Yusef Legwabe (South Africa), and costume design Edith KaNgwenya (Zimbabwe). The show is produced by Arts La’Olam.
Mama Afrika has been made possible through funding from The Arts Council of England and is supported by The Miriam Makeba Foundation and Norwich Theatre.
Run time: 120 minutes including interval.