Eminent South African singer and political activist, Miriam Zenzile Makeba, fondly known as "Mama Africa", has died, state media said on Monday.
She was 76.
Makeba died of a heart attack during a tour to Italy, South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.
She died at an hospital in Castel Volturno near Naples where she had been admitted after a half-an-hour long performance in a music concert.
The concert was on behalf of Roberto Saviano, the author of an expose of the Camorra mafia whose life has been threatened. Makeba was born in Soweto, Johannesburg on the 4th of March 1932.
During her lifetime she became a legendary voice of the African continent in its fight against apartheid. She appeared on Paul Simon's Graceland tour in 1987 and in 1992 had a leading role in a local film, 'Sarafina'.
She married a musician of Indian origin, Sonny Pillay, in Durban. The two went into exile in the United States where they continued their musical careers.
Makeba travelled all over the world promoting the cause of freedom in South Africa through her concerts.
She returned to the country in early 1990s and continued with her musical career. She was recognised by the new democratic government for her contributions to the struggles against apartheid.