Mama Africa turning in her grave

The Mangaung Metro Municipality's misspelling of Miriam Makeba's name has residents of the city fuming. PHOTO: PIETER DELPORT

Miriam Makeba, known across the world as “Mama Africa” or “The Empress of African Song”, is probably turning in her grave as we speak.

And the reason why the darling of Africa’s musical liberation may not be resting in peace, is the Mangaung Metro Municipality’s misspelling of her name on street poles in the CBD.

The metro recently decided to honour Makeba by naming Elizabeth Street after this accomplished vocalist and world renowned icon – a decision that was welcomed by most residents of the City of Roses.

Andile Qongqo

But the execution unfortunately lacked attention to detail. Instead of “Miriam” the world icon became “Merriam”, as could be seen on the accompanying picture.

As can be expected, this little “oversight” by the Mangaung Metro, was not taken lightly by residents of the city. Well-known Bloemfontein pianist and music teacher at Musicon, Andile Qongqo, says although the metro obviously meant well, the mistake is unforgivable.

“With the Free State arts sector being so vastly neglected, it is so unfortunate that when resources are availed to honour our artistic icons, such costly errors occur.

“What makes it even worse, is the fact that the spelling error was made on a street pole right next to a building that is housing an arts institution, which is Pacofs,” said a concerned Qongqo.

DA councillor in the Mangaung Metro, Mokgadi Kganakga, said she is appalled by the spelling error.

Mokgadi Kganakga

“Mama Africa was not only a respected singer and songwriter but she was a civil rights activist and a goodwill ambassador at the United Nations where she testified against the apartheid regime. It was her songs that carried our parents and grandparents through the terrible times of apartheid.

“The misspelling of her name proves the disregard the Mangaung Metro has for everyone. Don’t they have any checks or procedures? Has the incompetency gone to such a level that they can’t even spell a name known to the whole world?” asked Kganakga.

Bloemfontein Courant made several attempts to get a comment about the misspelling from the Mangaung Metro, but nothing had been received by the time of going to press. – Pieter Delport