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Makeba: My Story


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Guinean-based Makeba is an exiled South African folk/pop singer who sang with Harry Belafonte in the early 1960s. African pressure to eliminate the Hebrew songs from their show split them up; Makeba then became involved with Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael (one of her five husbands). There are few insights, but plenty of dramatic incidents, in her flatly written autobiography; and though she claims to be a triumphant survivor, her book conveys an overall sense of sadness. It is the story of a not-quite-fulfilled talent distracted by political forces rather than channeled by a self-generated philosophy. The message is clear: Apartheid wastes lives. Bonnie Jo Dopp, District of Columbia P.L.

With freelance writer Hall, the well-known South African singer tells the story of her life from 1932 onward in the present tense. Daughter of a Xhosa father and a Swazi mother, she experienced many of the injustices of apartheid. Sponsored by Harry Belafonte (``Big Brother'') and introduced to America on the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen television shows, she became famous as a concert and recording artist almost overnight and sang for President Kennedy and Emperor Haile Selassie. But the South African government invalidated her passport and she has never been able to return home. Here are both joyful and painful accounts of her four marriages, her daughter's mental breakdown, her career as Guinean ambassador to the U.N. General Assembly and her recent return to America on Paul Simon's Graceland. Makeba shows herself to be an indomitable woman who has ``hope, determination, and song.'' Photos not seen by PW. Literary Guild alternate. (January 26)

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