Multiple media outlets are reporting Hugh Masekela, the man known as the “Father of South African Jazz,” has died. Masekela played many instruments but was best known as a trumpeter, singer and composer. Masekela played a major role in the anti-Apartheid movement as an activist, penning iconic songs like “Soweto Blues,” and “Bring Him Back Home,” about anti-Apartheid activist, political prisoner and South African President Nelson Mandela. The song became a national anthem for the anti-Apartheid movement.
Masekela died after a long battle with cancer. His legacy includes global activism against oppression and promotion and support of the Arts for social change. His family released a statement:
“It is with profound sorrow that the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing. After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, 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 decaded. Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts.”
Hugh Masekela was 78. Rest in power.