Hugh Masekela's death an immeasurable loss: President Zuma

File picture: Leon Muller

File picture: Leon Muller

Published Jan 23, 2018


Johannesburg - Offering his condolences to the family of legendary musician Hugh Masekela, President Jacob Zuma said the nation would mourn a man who "kept the torch of freedom alive".

"It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten," Zuma said.

Masekela, known as the "father of South African jazz" who used

his music in the fight against apartheid, has died from prostate

cancer, his family said on Tuesday. He was 78.

In a career spanning more than five decades, Masekela gained

international recognition with his distinctive Afro-Jazz sound

and hits such as "Soweto Blues", which served as one of the

soundtracks to the anti-apartheid movement.

Following the end of apartheid, he opened the 2010

Fifa Soccer World Cup Kick-Off Concert and performed at the

event's opening ceremony in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

"Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and

participation in the areas of music, theatre, and the arts in

general is contained in the minds and memory of millions," a

statement on behalf of the Masekela family said.

"Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts."


His son, Sal, recalled memories of being dragged around the

jazz clubs of Manhattan by his father aged just five.

"He would steal the hearts and souls of innocents with a

musical storytelling all his own," Sal posted on his Facebook


"It was these moments and his choosing to take me around the

globe any chance he got, that would come to shape my entire

world view."

Masekela's song "Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)",

written while he was in living in exile, called for the release

of the-then imprisoned Mandela and was banned by the apartheid


Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa tweeted: "A baobab

tree has fallen, the nation has lost a one of a kind."

Also read: 

After honing his craft as a teenager, Masekela left South

Africa aged 21 to begin three decades in exile.

His global appeal hit new heights in 1968 when his

instrumental single "Grazin' in the Grass" went to number one in

the U.S. charts.

As well as close friendships with jazz legends like Miles

Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Mingus, Masekela also recorded

with the Byrds and performed alongside stars such as Janis

Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix at the famed 1967 Monterey

Pop Festival.

Still performing 50 years on, he toured Europe in 2012 with

Paul Simon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his classic

album "Graceland" in an African musical extravaganza.

He was married to singer and activist Miriam Makeba, known

as "Mama Africa", from 1964 to 1966.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet

that Masekela was "a titan of jazz and of the anti-apartheid


"His courage, words and music inspired me, were heard across

the world, and strengthened the resolve of those fighting for

justice in South Africa." 


Related Topics: