The South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, known to many as “Mama Africa,” died today of an apparent heart attack, the New York Times reports. Makeba, who was 76, was exiled from South Africa in 1960. Her music was also banned from her home country in 1976 after she spoke out against apartheid at the UN. She collapsed early this morning as she left the stage following a concert in Italy.
“I never understood why I couldn’t come home,” Makeba said upon her return to her country in 1990. “I never committed any crime.” Makeba won a Grammy with Harry Belafonte in 1965 and performed with Paul Simon in Zimbabwe in 1987. ”I kept the music of my roots,” she wrote. “Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa and the people without even realizing.”