Mama Africa

Countries: (Germany, South Africa, Finland)

Director: Mika Kaurismäki

Genre: documentary, biography

90 minutes; English, French with English subtitles; 2011

About this Film

MAMA AFRICA is the biography of Miriam Makeba, South African singer and anti-apartheid activist, the voice and the hope of Africa.  The first African musician to become a true international star, Makeba’s music influenced artists across the globe but always remained true to her roots with its message against racism and poverty.

Using rare archive footage and featuring performances, interviews, scenes from her life in exile, and her return, the film approaches Miriam Makeba from different angles; Miriam Makeba as an artist, activist, mother, grandmother, and – a human being.  Makeba’s own life struggle reflects the struggle of her motherland, South Africa, from apartheid to democracy, while her unique melodic voice became the voice of freedom and dignity for her people, both old and young.


A portrait of a woman whose dynamic range and earth-wide smile made the words and sounds pouring from her like a hand extended, a heart exposed, a story of the world made achingly real.
Robert Abele,  Los Angeles Times

A fitting tribute to a rare talent who dedicated her life to the liberation of oppressed people all over the world.
Kam Williams,  Baret News

Mama Afrika showcases Miriam Makeba’s part in the tumultuous social, political, and cultural movements that reshaped the world around her.
Serena Donadoni,  Village Voice

Miriam Makeba was the antithesis of a diva. Right up until her death in 2008, she was a woman who cared too damn much.
Craig D. Lindsey, Nashville Scene