Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Africa's Jazz Maestro Hugh Masakela Dies, Aged 78

Hugh Masekela was well-known for his anti-apartheid songs Image Masekela was well known for his anti-apartheid songs
Lora Ball | 24 January, 2018, 08:52

"The next year, he played with Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the 'Graceland" tour, which was not allowed in South Africa but made stops in nearby countries.

The exploitation in South Africa inspired his music and his political activism.

Born in Witbank, South Africa, Masekela started playing the piano in the dusty Soweto township in the 1950's and composed his first song, Soweto Blues in 1976, in response to the Soweto uprising. The musical later went to London's West End for two years.

Masekela had also met American jazz singer Harry Belafonte, who, along with Makeba, encouraged the young musician to attend music school in NY.

Masekela was introduced to the trumpet in 1954 when he got it as a gift from another Jazz legend, Louis Armstrong.

In 1967, he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. The world-renowned trumpeters involvement in the struggle against South Africas apartheid regime sent him into exile in 1961, and his 1987 hit song for Nelson Mandela, “Bring Him Back Home, ” was used as the anthem for Mandelas world tour after his release from prison.

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In 1990 Masekela returned home, following the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Mandela. "Since 2014, Soweto has been the site of an annual Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, with the stated aim 'to restore our South African heritage and to uplift the local artisans of Soweto'".

In June 2010, he performed at both the opening concert of the Fifa World Cup and the tournament's opening ceremony in Soweto's Soccer City.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Masekela's death was "an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large" and said: "His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten". Masekela lost his battle with prostate cancer, for which he had been treated since 2008. In his last years, his attention had turned to preserving South Africa's musical heritage, as well as battling xenophobia.

"It is with profound sorrow that the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing".

Masekela's son shared his thoughts about his father on Facebook.

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