Miriam “Zenzi” Makeba was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1932 to parents Caswell and Christina Makeba. During the time of her birth the country was facing an economic depression and apartheid. At the age of 18 days Miriam and her mother were imprisoned for illegally brewing beer; her mother was only trying to make sure her children had food to eat. In 1948 South African Prime Minister Daniel Malan made segregation legal, which was oppressive to the South Africans in their own land. Makeba’s father moved their family to Prospect Township which is located just outside of Johannesburg. The Township was rundown without electricity and mostly populated with poor people.
Lauretta Mary Aiken was born in Brevard, North Carolina in 1894, she was one of twelve children born to James Aiken and Mary Smith. Her father was an entrepreneur and a volunteer fireman who subsequently died in an accident involving an exploding firetruck. In the year 1910 her mother was hit by a truck and killed on Christmas Day. More tragedy stuck the young life of Mabley, by the age of fifteen she was raped twice and each time became pregnant from her attacker. She was forced to give both of her children away before she left North Carolina for Cleveland, Ohio. Mabley was fourteen when she began her career as a comedian on the “chitlin circuit” under the Theater Owners Booking Association. Jack Mabley was a fellow performer would become her boyfriend and the man whose last name she used in her stage name. Aiken was given the nickname “Moms” because of her nurturing qualities; it is said that one of her brothers did not agree with her career choice, so she created her stage name “Moms Mabley” and her life was never the same again.
On the Shoulders of Giants
The mission of On the Shoulders of Giants, Inc. is to provide an innovative and informative approach to educating middle school, high school, college age and young adults, about the history , culture, influence and impact of the heroes and culture of the African diaspora.