South Africans paying tribute to Bra Hugh


Zodidi Mhlana 

JOHANNESBURG- Tributes continue pouring in following the death of veteran jazz musician Hugh Masekela.

The 78 year- old died after a 10-year battle with prostate cancer on Tuesday in Johannesburg.

President Jacob Zuma sent his condolences, saying Masekela’s talent was recognised worldwide. Zuma said that the musician was a liberation struggle icon who used his music to fight against apartheid.

“The nation mourns one its most recognizable signature talent in the person of Bra Hugh Masekela. 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. We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and peers in the arts and culture fraternity at large. May his soul rest in peace,” Zuma said.

Zuma honoured Masekela with the National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold in 2010 for his     contributions to music and “the struggle against apartheid.”

Political parties and trade unions also paid their tribute to Masekela describing him as an icon who touched many lives.

The African National Congress’s spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said that Masekela was passionate about fighting any forms of injustices.

“Like many of our struggle icons, he was forced to go into exile in the 1960s because of his music which was unsilenced in the face of discrimination. As international pressure mounted on the apartheid government to release political prisoners in the 1980s, Bra Hugh, through his music, became of the voice and conscience of countless generations of South Africans,” he said.

EFF said that Masekela should be remembered as an activist who opposed apartheid.

The party’s national spokesperson, Mbuyisi Ndlozi said the late musician used his music to tell the world about how apartheid colonial capitalism negatively impacted on South Africans.

Ndlozi said: “In his late works, Hugh Masekela left a legendary musical “Song of Migration” in which he tells the story of migration through song. In what is also biographical, Masekela’s musical narrated how apartheid colonial capitalism disrupted lives and families, displacing them through wars, land dispossession, hunger and industry. The songs of migration are therefore the sounds through which our people in Southern Africa navigated these colonial disruptions,” Ndlozi said.

DA leader, Mmusi Maimane said Masekela’s unique sound will remain “in our hearts forever.”

“He was a musical genius and a fearless activist. His music told the stories of our people and reflected the struggles of black South Africans opposing apartheid. His music reflected the difficult realities of life in the township but also brought to life the vibrant spirit of Sophiatown,” Maimane said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said that Masekela will be missed for his dedication and commitment to his craft.

“Hugh Masekela was not just a musician but was an activist and a hero to many South Africans for using his talent to speak out and fight against apartheid. His musical talent and gained him a substantial following across the world. He was a pioneer and inspired many to pursue the performing arts. We hope that a new generation of musicians will keep the legacy of Hugh Masekela alive,” Cosatu’s spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla said.

COPE’s Deputy President and MP, Willie Madisha said: “Together with other renowned South African musicians, Masekela kept the anti-apartheid banner burning and continued to be an active citizen in various areas, sharing his experiences with the country to save lives.”