Tributes are being paid across the world to the African-American entertainer and rights icon Harry Belafonte, who died in New York on Tuesday at the age of 96.
Ade Bantu, the Afro-German musician and rights activist who once met Belafonte, has penned a moving tribute to the Black singer, actor and activist who never failed to raise his voice on behalf of the suffering and the voiceless until his last minute on mother earth:
By Ade Bantu
“How do you quantify the greatness of Harry Belafonte? the embodiment of black excellence, our shining king, a tireless warrior who dedicated his entire life fighting against racism and injustice.
“He walked the talk like no other. A rare gem who refused to bask and wall himself up in the fame and glamour of Hollywood and the pretentiousness of show business instead he opted to fight in the trenches with the downtrodden of America, Africa, the Caribbean…
“Harry Belafonte risked everything: his fame, wealth, health and freedom because he was a firm believer in equality and social justice.
“I am eternally thankful to have spent some quality time with Mr Belafonte while filming segments for his documentary film “Sing Your Song”. He was a kind and gracious elder, highly knowledgeable, passionate, patient and attentive with a probing and inquisitive mind.
“There was no way one could have parted ways after having a talk with Mr Belafonte without being inspired and reminded of what your duty as an artist is towards mankind. May we honour your legacy by living up to all that you stood for.”
Harry Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; 1 March 1927 – 25 April 2023) was a Jamaican-American singer, actor and activist, who popularized calypso music with international audiences in the 1950s. Belafonte is one of the few performers to have received Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT). He earned his career breakthrough with the album Calypso (1956), which was the first million-selling LP by a single artist.
Belafonte was a close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and he was a vocal critic of the policies of the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations.