The viral phenomenon of “Makeba” — Jain’s musical homage to South African activist Miriam Makeba

The compelling journey of a global hit bridging past and present, blending music and activism, and reaching millions as a TikTok challenge.

“Makeba” is a song that has managed to captivate millions of people around the world, and has become a viral phenomenon on the TikTok platform. However, this catchy tune is a musical hit and pays tribute to the life and struggle of an extraordinary activist known as Mama Africa.

Jain, a talented French singer and songwriter, wrote “Makeba” as a tribute to Zenzile Miriam Makeba, an iconic figure of African music and human rights. Miriam Makeba was born in South Africa in 1932 and became one of the most influential voices of her generation. Her music, with strong roots in African tradition, conveyed hope, equality, and resistance against oppression.

Miriam Makeba‘s story is inextricably linked to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. For decades, her music was a powerful instrument of denunciation against the segregationist regime, and she became a leading voice for those who could not speak. Makeba dared to speak out against racial injustice and discrimination, even when it cost her forced exile from South Africa.

On “Makeba,” Jain captures the essence of this iconic African activist’s courage and determination. The song combines infectious beats, vibrant melodies, and inspirational lyrics that urge people to stand up and fight for justice. Jain manages to convey the energy and spirit of Miriam Makeba through her music, honoring her legacy and spreading her message to a new generation.

The song became especially popular on the TikTok platform, where users adopted its catchy beat and created original choreographies that went viral. These videos captured the attention of millions of people and helped spread the message of empowerment and resistance that underlies “Makeba.” As the song went viral, so did Miriam Makeba’s story, and many people became interested in her life, music, and struggle.

What was Apartheid?

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation and institutionalized discrimination implemented in South Africa from 1948 to 1992. It was a regime imposed by the government dominated by the white minority in that country, which sought to maintain political and economic control over the black majority.

Under apartheid, laws and policies were established that divided the South African population into different racial categories, mainly white, black, mixed race (colored), and Indian. Each group had different rights and privileges, and racial discrimination was a systematic and legalized practice.

The apartheid regime was based on the idea of white supremacy and promoted the physical and social separation of the different races. Segregated residential areas, known as townships, were created where black people were forced to live, while urban areas were predominantly for the white population.

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In addition to segregation, laws were imposed prohibiting interracial marriages and restricting the mobility of the non-white population. Separate education and health care systems were established, with facilities for whites receiving more resources and being of better quality than those available to blacks.

Zenzile Miriam Makeba on the cover of Time's "100 Women of the Year "in 1967. Photo: Time.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba on Time’s “100 Women of the Year “cover in 1967. Photo: Time.

Racial discrimination extended to all aspects of South African life, including access to employment, public services, social services, and economic opportunities. Black people faced restrictions on their civil and political rights, and their voices and representation were severely limited. Resistance to apartheid was strong and manifested through protests, liberation movements, and the struggle of iconic leaders such as Nelson Mandela. Apartheid generated widespread international rejection and was the subject of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

In 1992, after years of struggle and negotiations, apartheid ended with the first multiracial democratic elections in South Africa, in which Nelson Mandela was elected as the country’s first black president. This event ushered in a new era of equality and reconciliation in South Africa, although the effects of apartheid are still felt in South African society today.

Who is Jain?

Jain is a French singer and songwriter who has gained international recognition for her unique musical style and ability to fuse different genres and cultures in her music. She was born on February 7, 1992, in Toulouse, France, and her real name is Jeanne Louise Galice.

From an early age, Jain became interested in music and began exploring different instruments, such as the piano and drums. Her passion for music led her to experiment with different styles, fusing African rhythms, pop, reggae, electro, and other genres in her compositions.

In 2015, Jain released her first album, “Zanaka,” including her hit single “Come.” The song became a huge hit in France and popular in other European countries. Jain received praise for his refreshing style and innovative approach to pop music.

Subsequently, Jain released another single that further catapulted her to international fame: “Makeba.” Since then, Jain has continued to reap success with her music. She released albums such as “Souldier” in 2018 and has toured the world, captivating audiences with her energetic stage presence and eclectic musical style.