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Bongi Makeba (20 December 1950 – 17 March 1985) was a South African singer/songwriter. She was the only child of singer Miriam Makeba with her first husband, James Kubay.[1]

Bongi Makeba
Bongi Makeba.jpg
Makeba on the cover of her album Blow On Wind
Angela Sibongile Makeba

(1950-12-20)20 December 1950
Died17 March 1985(1985-03-17) (aged 34)
Burial placeConakry, Guinea
NationalitySouth African
OccupationSinger, songwriter



Angela Sibongile Makeba was born in South Africa in 1950, when her mother was 18 years old. The name Bongi by which she became known is a shortened version of her middle name Sibongile, which means "We are grateful".[2] In 1959 her mother's career took her to New York, where she remained in exile after being barred from returning to South Africa, and in 1960 was joined by Bongi, who stayed with friends while her mother toured the world.[3][4]

In 1967 she and Judy White, daughter of Josh White, signed to Buddha Records as "Bongi and Judy", their first release being "Runnin' Out" and "Let's Get Together".[5] At the age of 17, Makeba met her American husband Harold Nelson Lee, with whom in the early to mid-1970s she made two 7" records as "Bongi and Nelson", featuring two soul tracks arranged by George Butcher: "That's the Kind of Love" backed by "I Was So Glad" (France: Syliphone SYL 533), and "Everything, For My Love" with "Do You Remember, Malcolm?" (France: Syliphone SYL 532).[6] She recorded only one solo album, Bongi Makeba, Blow On Wind[6][7] (pläne-records), in 1980. Some of her songs could be heard years later in her mother's repertoire. Two of them, "Malcolm X" (1965, 1972) and "Lumumba" (1970) extol assassinated black leaders.

Makeba had three children:[8] Nelson Lumumba Lee (born 1968), Zenzi Monique Lee (born 1971),[4][9] and a son, Themba, who died as a young child.[10][11][12]

She died aged 34 in 1985 of complications following childbirth and was buried in Conakry, Guinea, where her mother had moved after her 1968 marriage to Stokely Carmichael.


  • Blow On Wind (1980; Germany: pläne – 88234)
  • Miriam Makeba & Bongi (1975; LP with Miriam Makeba; Guinea: Editions Syliphone Conakry SLP 48)


  1. ^ Rudo Mungoshi (14 November 2008). "Hamba kahle, Mama Africa". Joburg official website: Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Bongi Makeba", Miriam Makeba Foundation.
  3. ^ "The Strength of a Black Woman: Miriam Makeba (Mama Africa) and Apartheid", Lipstick Alley, 21 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b Samantha Weinberg, Called Home: Children South African Exiles Return to Their Native Land", Southwest Digest, 12–18 October 1995.
  5. ^ "Signings", Billboard, October 7, 1967, p. 22.
  6. ^ a b Bongi Makeba discography
  7. ^ Murtala Bongi Makeba – Blow On Wind
  8. ^ "Obituary: Miriam 'Mama Africa' Makeba", BBC News, 11 November 2008.
  9. ^ Patrick Phosa, "Zenzi Lee", The Star Tonight, 5 January 1999.
  10. ^ Makeba, Miriam (1992). Miriam Makeba - Etelä-Afrikan ääni (in Finnish). Kirjayhtymä. ISBN 951-26-3738-3.
  11. ^ Nkrumah, Gamal (1–7 November 2001). "Mama Africa". Profile (558). Cairo, Egypt: Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  12. ^ Pareles, Jon (8 March 1988). "Books of the Times; South African Singer's Life: Trials and Triumphs". Books. The New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2012.

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