UPDATE: Musicians, politicians pay tribute to Hugh Masekela


Hugh Masekela performs at the 16th Cape Town Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

JOHANNESBURG – Tributes are pouring in from all over the world since the news of Hugh Masekela&39;s death broke.

Masekela, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 78.

The "Father of South African jazz", as Masekela was fondly referred to, collaborated with famous musicians like Miriam Makeba, Zimbabwean Dorothy Masuka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Hedzoleh Soundz, Francis Fuster and Dudu Pukwana.

WATCH: Hugh Masekela speaks his mind

A teenaged Masekela was handed his first trumpet and later, a Louis Armstrong hand-me-down, through anti-apartheid activist priest Father Trevor Huddlestone.

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.

Among his greatest hits were the anthem "Bring Him Back Home", demanding Mandela&39;s freedom from jail, and "Grazing in the Grass".


Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse described Masekela as a friend and mentor, saying his death has left him speechless. 

South African music group Mi Casa also conveyed their condolences. 

Music producer Black Coffee had this to say:


President Jacob Zuma has expressed heartfelt condolences on Masekela&39;s passing.

"Mr Masekela was one of the pioneers of jazz music in South Africa whose talent was recognised and honoured internationally over many years," Zuma said in a statement.

"He kept the torch of freedom alive globally fighting apartheid through his music and mobilising international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid."

President Zuma bestowed the National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold in 2010 to Masekela for his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane joined in the tributes, saying his music captured the spirit of South Africa.

"The DA is deeply saddened by the passing of our national treasure, Hugh Masekela. We extend our love and condolences to his family, loved ones and the South African music fraternity. His unmistakable sound will echo in our hearts forever," he said.

"Bra Hugh was more than just a jazz musician, he was a musical genius and a fearless activist," Maimane added.

"His music touched the lives of true music lovers, irrespective of colour or creed. We all sang and danced to Thanayi and songs such as Stimela made us all contemplative... Our nation owes you a great debt of gratitude, Bra Hugh."

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa also paid tribute to the jazz musician. He described Masekela as one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz and compared his death to a baobab tree that has fallen.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, said South Africa lost a legend.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, also part of South Africa’s WEF delegation, said he would miss Masekela.

"I first came across the music of Hugh Masekela when I was in exile - he was a tremendously important cultural voice of the liberation movement of South Africa. He was an internationally-renowned artist, even in the late 1970s  and 1980s he had been an icon of music and culture. This is the loss of a giant among us and I have to say that I didn&39;t see this coming.

Davies sent his condolences to the musician&39;s family.

"Their loss is our loss," the minister added.

Also speaking in the Swiss Alpine town, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel expressed his shock at the news of Masekela&39;s passing.

He described the artist as an "icon".

"What a loss, but what a life," said Patel. "The word icon is overused but but he truly was an icon of South African music and passion."

He recalled a meeting of workers and Masekela playing to a packed hall of 3,000-4,000 workers who absolutely erupted.

Patel added that Masekela&39;s music would ensure that his legacy lives on.

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, a jazz lover, shared one of his favourite performances by Masekela.

International politicans also commented on the SA jazz great&39;s death.

- Additional reporting ANA, AFP

Paid Content