South African Jazz Legend Hugh Masekela Is Dead- Family
South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela’s long battle with prostate cancer ended on Tuesday in Johannesburg yesterday at the age of 78, his family announced, triggering an outpouring of tributes to his music, his long career, and his anti-apartheid activism.
“After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa,” his family said in a statement.
In the released statement, the family described his music as an “activist contribution” which “was contained in the minds and memory of millions.”
According to Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister for Arts and Culture, “He uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music…the nation has lost a one-of-a-kind musician.”
Masekela fled apartheid South Africa in the early 1960s and did not return for three decades until after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.
Some of his greatest hits include “Bring Him Back Home” a song demanding Mandela’s release from prison and “Grazing In The Grass”.
Keeping up his international touring schedule into his 70s with energetic shows, his concerts at home often exploded into sing-alongs.
A teenaged Masekela was handed his first trumpet — and later a Louis Armstrong hand-me-down — through anti-apartheid activist priest Father Trevor Huddlestone.
“I took to it like a fish to water. I was a natural,” he recalled.