Mama Africa: SA music legend immortalised as Google ‘doodle’ on 81st birthday

2013-03-05 00:00

MIRIAM Makeba has become the first South African icon to be immortalised as an international Google doodle, in celebration of what would have been her 81st birthday yesterday.

A Google “doodle” is the decoration used to make their logo every so often, explained Julie Taylor, communications head for Google sub-Saharan Africa.

The most visited website in the world paid homage to the SA music legend in the form of an ethnically decorated Google logo, with a cartoon image of Makeba replacing the second “g” in the word “Google”.

“Over the years doodles have become one of the most beloved parts of Google.

“Google doodles have been produced to celebrate international holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of noted artists and scientists. The team has created over 1 000 doodles for our homepages around the world.

“Miriam is an internationally recognised artist and civil rights activist who earned respect all over the globe through her music, dedication and passion,” Taylor said.

Makeba joins the ranks of several internationally noted artists and scientists — including Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Louis Braille — whose doodles could be viewed internationally on on their respective birthdays.

Early in Google’s history, a number of people at the company were going to attend the Burning Man Festival, a week-long event that takes place annually in northern Nevada. Google’s founders decided to create the first “doodle” as a way of signalling to users that they were “out of office”.

Dennis Hwang became Google’s chief doodler when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin asked the then intern to design a logo for Bastille Day. Since then, the team has celebrated and marked worldwide events, anniversaries and holidays with doodles that are designed on, around and through the Google logo on the site’s home page.

Affectionately known as Mama Africa, Makeba was a Grammy Award-wining musician and civil rights activist known for her songs Pata Pata and The Click Song.

Although the doodle has already been removed, it can be viewed at

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