Miriam Makeba, Woman of the year 2001

Miriam Makeba, who was also the winner of the Arts and Culture category, started her singing career in Sophiatown in the 1950s and continues to sell out at concerts internationally.  In 2000, she headed up the Joy of Jazz Festival with Jonathan Butler, received a Grammy nomination and was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the Continent of Africa by President Thabo Mbeki. Elated at being honoured for the first time by the people of her own country, Miriam Makeba has, since winning the prestigious Shoprite Checkers/SABC3 Woman of the Year Award, tackled her projects and commitments with more energy and motivation than ever before. 

Nine days after being named Woman of the Year, she paid tribute to the “Mother of South African jazz”, Dolly Rathebe, at a spectacular concert held on National Women’s Day, which received overwhelming praise from the critics.

As one of the world’s foremost musicians, along with her duties as Africa’s Goodwill Ambassador and commitments to alleviating the plight of women and children, her diary since winning the Award resembles a lifetime of phenomenal experiences.  During November 2001, she toured the USA where receiving the Key to the City of New Orleans was just one of many honours bestowed upon her.

On December 17, she made history once again by becoming the first woman and first African to be awarded one of Germany’s most prestigious accolades, the Otto Hahn Peace Medal, which was presented to her by the Mayor of Berlin.  A day or two later, Miriam jetted off to New York City to record two songs with producer Cedric Sampson for an album funded by the King of Swaziland. This album, which will raise funds for AIDS, also includes contributions from the Harlem Boys’ Choir as well as other world-renowned artist such as George Benson.

During the festive season her schedule did not wind down and on 22 December 2001, Miriam was the Swazi Royal family’s special guest at the launch of the Ngwavuma Entertainment Company, where the Minister of Health presented her with a gift from the wife of the King.

In-between more tours at home and abroad, she is brimming with excitement at the prospect of new projects and ideas to put Southern Africa on the world map, such as an African Music and Arts Festival, which may be held in Mozambique towards the end of the year.  “Our musicians are always going to the USA and Europe to perform at music festivals – it is time we had festivals at home with music lovers the world over coming to Southern Africa and enjoying all we have to offer. We have so much that is unique and special – let’s join hands with our neighbours and offer tourists something they cannot resist.”

Despite her hectic schedule, Miriam managed to make the time to officially launch the Shoprite Checkers/SABC3 Woman of the Year Award 2002, by making her nomination on Friday, 1 February, at the Epsom Downs Checkers store, before flying out of the country a few hours later for yet another tour.


 

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As the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award enters its judging phase, the winners of 2011 tell of how they are utilizing the prize money received from the Shoprite Group of Companies, to enhance their work and build a better future for the people of South Africa.



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