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Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s father of jazz dead


Hugh Masekela was a South African as well as a continental jazz music titan that used music as a tool of expression at the times of the apartheid.

With songs like Bring Him Back Home, Stimela or Grazing the Grass, he became one of the voices that painted a picture while giving many hope.

But Masekela was human!

And today, his strong vigor, message and above all his humane that ran the Coal Train stopped.

Read: How Hugh Masekela became a big deal for Ugandans

According to a statement by the Masekela family, the 78-year-old trumpeter that has often been referred to as the father of South African jazz passed peacefully in Johannesburg surrounded by his family.

“A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with profound loss. 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 across 6 continents and we are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of 6 decades. Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts,” reads part of the statement.



Isaiah Katumwa (L) on stage with Hugh Masekela during the 2015 Jazz it up concert. PHOTOS BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

The statement also notes that the trumpeter has been battling prostate cancer.

Masekela last performed in Kampala at the beginning of 2017 – a concert that doubled both as an anniversary celebration for Rotary in Uganda as well as a fundraiser for a blood bank.

Performing alongside Isaiah Katumwa for the second time in two years, the South African musician often described the Ugandan as a brother both in press interviews and on stage before they got in song together.

Read: Masekela to jazz up Isaiah’s 20 years

Many Ugandans have since taken onto social media like the rest of the world to pay tribute to a man whose career and success almost mirrored South Africa’s social and political woes.

Born in Witbank, a mining town in Eastern South Africa, raised by a grandmother that ran an illegal bar for miners, at 14 years, after seeing Kirk Douglas’ Young Man with a Horn, Masekela took up playing a trumpet.

He received his first trumpet from Trevor Huddleston, an activist and bishop that later formed the Huddleston Jazz Band, one of South Africa’s premiere youth orchestras.

Reacting to his death, South African president said the nation would mourn a man who ‘Kept the torch of freedom alive.’

In Uganda, BBC’s Allan Kasujja reminisced the last time he had a personal chat with the legend who at the time discussed his health and noted that he was optimistic.

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