It all went with a terrific swing. That cold drizzly night in August 2016 when Hugh Masekela performed a series of brilliant and rapturous music which, together with the animating backgrounds, became sort of a whole world. Music, especially of his kind, is meant to be enjoyed live with all senses involved. It was one of his last public performances, and that I am most grateful to have attended.

Perhaps the one thing I love most about Masekela is his elegiac sensibility. It is not every day that you hear this kind of music that is cultured, poignant and deeply moving. And how refreshing that it comes from a man with a lot of daring! A man who takes music as a tool for cultural identity, shaping politics and history. Of his works, Masekela happens to be one of my best album; a disarmingly forthright and powerful projection about the apartheid era. In my opinion, its audacity lies in his anger and defiance both very well balanced by his energy and musical refinement.

Now, Hugh Ramapolo Masekela lies deceased, aged 78, after a long battle with prostate cancer. It is disconsolate when the life of someone so essential is cut short. I have no proper way to honor his incredible and tenacious years of music and activism, yet, in spite of this tragic event without catharsis, I will say with unimpeachable authority that Masekela made a difference. Important too, is that what he leaves behind will continue to.


So long and long live Hugh Ramapolo Masekela.