The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) paid tribute today to Miriam Makeba, the renowned South African singer and one of its Goodwill Ambassadors, who has died suddenly at the age of 76.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf issued a statement describing Ms. Makeba – who had served as a Goodwill Ambassador since 1999 – as one of the Rome-based agency’s most dedicated advocates.
“For nearly a decade… Miriam Makeba was a strong supporter of FAO’s fight to reduce hunger and improve the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people,” Mr. Diouf said.
“Mama Africa spoke out against the violence, inequality and disease that kept many people, especially women and children, living in conditions of extreme poverty. We will miss her energy and her respectful concern for the world’s most vulnerable.”
During her stint as a Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Makeba participated in numerous events and concerns to raise funds for FAO projects or to raise awareness about key issues. She was also active in various communications campaigns about hunger on behalf of the UN agency.
Ms. Makeba’s last official mission on behalf of FAO was in March to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where she visited emergency projects designed to help survivors of violence and HIV-positive women and men feed their families and revive their livelihoods through farming.