Singing the Truth

The Story of Miriam Makeba
by Louwrisa Blaauw, Jade Mathieson, and Bianca de Jong
Available at and republished under a CC-BY 4.0 license


Singing the Truth

Learn about the amazing life of a little girl who grew up to use her gift of singing to help bring freedom to South Africa.

A long time ago, in the vast city of Johannesburg, a baby girl was born. That baby was me. My mom called me Miriam. Miriam Makeba.

Mom was a sangoma, but she also worked to make other people’s homes neat and clean. It was hard for my mom to earn enough for both of us. She started selling homemade beer to bring in more money.

The laws of the land said that selling homemade beer was wrong. The police sent my mom to jail for six long months. I was only 18 days old, and needed my mom. So even though I was just a baby, I went to jail too.

As a little girl I loved to sing. When I was older, I helped my mom clean houses. Singing songs as I worked made the chores go faster and the days seem brighter. Singing made me happier than I can explain.

I sang in my church, and this made others happy too. Music has the power to bring people together. When we were singing we felt brave and strong.

People said my voice was a gift and my songs were special. I sang with other musicians and our music was heard all over the world.

My home was Sophiatown, a place of culture and music. Sophiatown, a place where South Africans could make music in harmony and dance together. But the people who ruled the land at the time did not like this togetherness. Those rulers didn’t want black and white people to be friends.

I knew it was wrong to treat people differently because of their skin colour. I did not hide my beliefs, and so those people in charge wanted me out of the country.

When I was singing in America, I was told I could never return home.

People all over the world heard my story. My songs and my story helped many to see how there was no fairness in South Africa for those with black skin. I decided to go on singing and telling the truth about my country, no matter what.

The world loved my music and I was welcomed in many countries. I won awards and sang for important people all over the globe. My life was good, but something was missing. I could not sing in my home country, and people there were not free.

Then a wonderful day dawned when Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa. New people were in charge and the unfair laws belonged to the past. I finally went home with new hope in my heart.

After that I could sing in a free, fair country. People of different skin colours could enjoy music together. I helped make this happen because I was brave and strong. I sang the truth in all of my songs.


Singing the Truth

Singing the Truth


  • vast: very large in size or area
  • sangoma: traditional healer in South Africa
  • chores: task that you do regularly at home
  • harmony: everyone happy together
  • dawned: a new beginning

Ref: Google Dictionary, Oxford Learners Dictionaries,, MacMillan Dictionary, Word Hippo

  • vast: өргөн: хэмжээ, талбайд маш том
  • sangoma: Өмнөд Африк дахь уламжлалт эдгээгч
  • chores: Хийх ажил: гэртээ байнга хийдэг ажил
  • harmony: эв зохицол: бүгд хамтдаа аз жаргалтай байдаг
  • dawned: татаж авах: шинэ эхлэл


  • vast: Үлкен: өлшемі немесе аумағы өте үлкен
  • sangoma: Сангома: Оңтүстік Африканың дәстүрлі емші
  • chores: Үй тапсырмалары: үйде үнемі жасайтын тапсырма
  • harmony: үйлесім: бәрі бірге бақытты
  • dawned: жүктеу: жаңа бастама


  • vast: กว้างใหญ่: มีขนาดหรือพื้นที่มาก
  • sangoma: หมอผีแบบดั้งเดิม
  • chores: เหลือเกิน: งานที่คุณทำเป็นประจำที่บ้าน
  • harmony: ความสามัคคี: ทุกคนมีความสุขด้วยกัน
  • dawned: ดาวน์โหลด: จุดเริ่มต้นใหม่


  • vast: विशाल: आकार वा क्षेत्र मा धेरै ठूलो
  • sangoma: दक्षिण अफ्रिका मा परम्परागत चिकित्सा
  • chores: कार्य जुन तपाईं घरमा नियमित रूपमा गर्नुहुन्छ
  • harmony: सद्भाव: सबैजना सँगै खुशी छन्
  • dawned: एक नयाँ शुरुआत