I ask you and all the leaders of the world: Would you act differently, would you keep silent and do nothing if you were in our place? Would you not resist if you were allowed no rights in your own country because the color of your skin is different to that of the rulers, and if you were punished for even asking for equality? I appeal to you, and through you to all the countries of the world, to do everything you can to stop the coming tragedy. I appeal to you to save the lives of our leaders, to... Read more »
I didn't have much, but I was always happy to share what I did have. It seemed like every African that came to New York City would show up at my apartment door at dinnertime, and I couldn't turn them away. I wasn't much older than any of them, but they started calling me 'Mama Africa' and the name stuck.
When I was young, I never bought records because my brother Joseph played saxophone and had a record player. I loved listening to his records: The Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, all the big American jazz bands, and vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Ernestine Anderson, and Kitty White, a singer from the US who was a friend of Nina Simone. Nobody in America seems to know about her, but she was quite popular in South Africa.
In those years, when I came to the States, people were always asking me why I didn't sing anymore. I'd tell them, 'I sing all around the world-Asia, Africa, Europe-but if you don't sing in the US, then you haven't really made it.' That's why I'll always be grateful to Paul Simon. He allowed me to bring my music back to my friends in this country.