Tributes continue to pour in for late Masekela

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has paid tribute to jazz legend Hugh Masekela for his contribution to the liberation struggle and the music industry.

“His outstanding contribution and exceptional track record in the liberation struggle of our country as well as his immense contribution to the transformation of the arts in South Africa, the African continent and the world, bares testimony to the calibre of person he was - a true Living Legend indeed,” Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement.

Masekela passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with prostate cancer.  

Born in Witbank on 4 April 1939, Ramapolo Hugh Masekela was exiled from his native South Africa for 30 years; he travelled the world receiving worldwide acclaim as musician and ambassador for the South Africa oppressed masses.

“When he spoke out against South African apartheid policies, he found himself banished from his homeland. During 1970’and 1980’s, he lived in various countries in the African continent, returning to South Africa in 1991, when he played a formidable role as a developer of music in the democratic South Africa. 

“Even in recent years, “Bra Hugh” continued to fly the flag for South Africa in international festivals, and his home country including the performance at the Grammy Awards in 2013,” Minister Mthethwa said.

Over the last three years Masekela featured on a number of festivals such as the Joy of Jazz, Macufe, Cape Town International Jazz, Moretele, Mapungubwe and the Buleyekhaya festival sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture.

Hugh Masekela was also the recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga Gold in 2010 for his contribution to music and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

“The Jazz icon was also a member of the Living Legends Legacy Project, an initiative of the Department of Arts and Culture that seeks to engage the living legends actively in programmes that promote arts, culture and heritage sector, thus providing them with a platform to interact and share their knowledge and experience with the younger generation of artists,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said Masekela’s commitment to the liberation of the globally oppressed people expressed through his artistry shaped both the struggle for social justice as well as the musical identity of South Africa.

“It is not enough to call Hugh Masekela a musician. Bra Hugh, as he was affectionately known was a well accomplished activist and musical icon.

“While the Masekela family have lost one of their own, it is without any doubt that the music loving people of the world have lost a part of their soul,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said.

The department is in consultation with the family regarding the funeral arrangements and will keep the public informed of developments. –


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