Monday, February 26, 2024

Maya Angelou Passes Away



Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress, has died at age 86, her literary agent, Helen Brann, said Wednesday.

She died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Brann said.

Also a professor, singer and dancer, Angelou’s work spans several professions. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded her with the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

One of Angelou’s most revered books was “I Know Why the Caged Sings.”

Writer Julian Mayfield is said to have described the autobiography as “a work of art which eludes description.”

Angelou spent her early years studying dance and drama in San Francisco but dropped out at age 14, instead becoming the city’s first African-American female cable car conductor.

Angelou later returned to high school to finish her diploma and gave birth a few weeks after graduation. While the 17-year-old single mother waited tables to support her son, she acquired a passion for music and dance, and toured Europe in the mid-1950s in the opera production “Porgy and Bess.” In 1957, she recorded her first album, “Calypso Lady.”

In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York and also played a queen in “The Blacks,” an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

“I created myself,” she has said. “I have taught myself so much.”

Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis. She grew up between St. Louis and the then-racially segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas.

The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. When she was 7, her mother’s boyfriend raped her. He was later beaten to death by a mob after she testified against him.

“My 7-and-a-half-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so I stopped speaking for almost six years,” she said.

From the silence, a louder voice was born.

Her list of friends is as impressive as her illustrious career. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey referred to her as “sister friend.” She counted Martin Luther King Jr., with whom she worked during the civil rights movement, among her friends. King was assassinated on her birthday.

Angelou spoke at least six languages and worked at one time as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. It was during that time that she wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which launched the first in a series of autobiographical books.

“I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine … before she realizes she’s reading,” Angelou said.

She was also one of the first black women film directors. Her work on Broadway has been nominated for Tony Awards.

Before making it big, the 6-foot-tall wordsmith also worked as a cook and sang with a traveling road show.

“Look where we’ve all come from … coming out of darkness, moving toward the light,” she once said. “It is a long journey, but a sweet one, bittersweet.”




  1. Maya whose background history would not hold her back, she had a voice, a voice of passion and compassionate, she had a dream, a dream that came to full ciycle. Almost the completeness of humanity. Maya Angelo the legend whose works will live on and on and on for truth is hard to erase from history.

    • The world will miss Sata more than Maya. Sata is trendsetter in the observance of freedoms of speech, association and the rule of law!

    • You surely can`t know her.You put too much energy in Zambian politics and gossip to know literary greats like her.

    • Ever heard the phrase “a global community”? And why should your own ignorance and lack of curiosity drag the rest of Zambia down?

      Better is to learn something and be inspired! Try it sometime.

  2. Undeniably one of the most powerful women to ever walk on this earth.What a great lose.Her “i know why the caged bird sings” autobiography is the best i have ever read.Her poems like “Still I Rise” is just out of this world.Rest in peace powerful woman.

  3. Just @the first smack on ones back 2 birth,one droweth closer to there death.Ideed she was one hell of a poet.MHSRIP.

  4. LT i find it laughable that you want to associate yourselves with this fallen great journalist who was clearly not in your league!

  5. Just to salute LT for this story honouring Maya Angelou. I was surprised at low key coverage of Angelou’s death in Zambia and across the world. I chatted two friends, one yesterday and another today, also surprised on the poor coverage. As already noted here, I also realised her death says something about the death of letters, so called reading culture, not necessarily death of a giant of letters. Thanks.

  6. Shocked to say the least! She was a legend in her own right. Just recently she wrote and read that moving peom when Mandela died. Rest In Peace daughter of Africa!

Comments are closed.

Read more

Local News

Discover more from Lusaka Times-Zambia's Leading Online News Site -

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading