Somi Channels the Spirit of Miriam Makeba in Theater and Song

The jazz singer has long-admired the late Miriam Makeba, and through a stage production and an album of covers, shares that appreciation with the world.

Like many children of African immigrants of this generation, Somi grew up with the music of Miriam Makeba being ubiquitous around her. She can’t tell you exactly when she first heard Pata Pata or Malaika, or even when she first heard Makeba’s name, but, for as long as she can remember, the iconic South African singer has been part of Somi’s world. “She was always just the soundtrack to my life, in some way,” she tells OkayAfrica.

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Photo: Alex Proper

DRC's Libende Boyz Are Using Their Voices to Uplift Troubled Beni

The Congolese group goes beyond making music in its efforts to uplift the Beni area, which has been experiencing years of torment by extremist groups.

In eastern DRC, there is a martyred town. Beni, in North Kivu province, is where fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS, have been terrorizing the population for several years. Deaths and abductions number in the thousands. And despite the establishment of a state of siege with a military administration in the region since May 2021, as well as the arrival of Ugandan armed forces, there is every indication that this terror of almost daily ambushes and deaths in the area isn't about to end any time soon. In the midst of it all exists a group of Beni-based musicians doing all it can to raise the morale of the local population and uplift those in need.

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