Science

'Thanks for the extraordinary music' - Akufo-Addo eulogizes Hugh Masekela

'Thanks for the extraordinary music' - Akufo-Addo eulogizes Hugh Masekela

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. Masekela was also responsible for the record, Bring Him Back Home which was considered one of the unofficial anthems of the anti-apartheid movement. Do not cut, copy or lift any content from this website without our consent.

In 1974, Masekela released his album I Am Not Afraid, which included Stimela (Coal Train), a song that became synonymous with his performances for decades to come. The son of a health-inspector father and social-worker mother, Hugh (as he became known) was raised mainly by his grandmother, who ran an illegal drinking house known as a shebeen. South Africa has lost one of its best.

Eulogizing the gifted jazz trumpeter, Mr Addy, popularly called Uncle Ken, said the South African was a true gem when it comes to music.

In Masekela's case, however, the combination of a searing curiosity and appetite for the world around him (which sometimes got him into deep trouble), an abiding musical gift, an unabashed and enduring love of the township life that shaped him, and a life in exile meant that his particular folk music drew the widest audience possible.

Under the guidance of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, Masekela developed his unique style, feeding off African rather than American influences.

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In 1968 he released his seminal instrumental single Grazin' in the Grass, which reached the number one spot on the American pop charts and was a worldwide hit, launching him on the global stage. As an upcoming jazz trumpeter, he joined up with fellow South African jazzman Abdullah Ibrahim (known as Dollar Brand up until 1968) to play on Brands first album, “Jazz Epistle Verse 1” released in 1960.

Hardship in South Africa during the days of Apartheid created a culture of resistance and protest that was embodied by the likes of political figures like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

Masekela was by then in the midst of a late-career resurgence, buoyed by a collaboration with Paul Simon.

Masekela's marriages to singer Chris Calloway, daughter of American bandleader Cab Calloway, and to Jabu Mbatha also ended in divorce. "His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten", Zuma said in a statement.


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