Hugh Masekela, the legendary South African jazz musician and human rights campaigner, passed away Tuesday in Johannesburg, at the age of 78, after battling prostate cancer.
A native of the Rainbow Nation, Masekela's jazz stylings became the soundtrack to the anti-apartheid struggle, with his 1977 hit 'Soweto Blues' becoming an anthem for black liberation in the country.
Tributes poured in from across the world, as fans and admirers paid their respects to the 'Father of South African Jazz' who charmed audiences and listeners for more than 50 years.
Heaven has gained one of Africa’s finest ! Rest In Peace Hugh Masekela pic.twitter.com/K2Sx97cnMv— Kudakwashe Chisepo 🇿🇼 (@nyashanekutenda) January 23, 2018
As the curtains are drawn down to mourn the passing of Bra Hugh Masekela, we would like to send our sincere condolences to the family.May you find strength in God's comfort and my you rise to shine again.#RipHughMasekela #In4radio #eNCA— Leyo Afrika Media (@In4radio) January 23, 2018
South Africa mourns the passing of a true icon, Hugh Masekela. We have fond memories of working with him in the past and offer our condolences to his family and loved ones. RIP. https://t.co/Be4v8QaofF— The Insider (@InsideEdgeDMC) January 23, 2018
An extraordinary life
“What people don't know about oppression is that the oppressor works much harder. You always grew up being told you were not smart enough or not fast enough, but we all lived…to beat the system” – Hugh Masekela (April 4, 1939 – Jan. 23, 2018). RIPhttps://t.co/Syjgu5ltxy pic.twitter.com/uKS96Fqokt— Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) January 23, 2018
Hugh Masekela was born in 1939 in the town of Witbank in Mpumalanaga, the eastern province of South Africa. He was inspired to pick up the trumpet after watching the film 'Young Man With a Horn', based on the life of the jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke.
At the age of 14 he persuaded his teacher, anti-apartheid campaigner Father Trevor Huddleston, to buy him a trumpet, and promised he'd stay out of trouble in return.
In 1960, at the age of 21, he went into exile after the unrest following the Sharpeville Massacre in which South African police killed 69 protestors.
With mentors such as the legendary Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, Masekela developed his unique Afro-Jazz style, and went on to spectactular success.
In 1967 he rubbed shoulders with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, performing at the Monteray Pop Festival. He topped the US charts with 'Grazing In The Grass' the following year, and become a worldwide sensation.
He would return to his native South Africa in 1990, with the release of Nelson Mandela, whose released he called for in the 1986 anthem 'Bring Home Nelson Mandela'. South Africa is where he would remain until his death.
Many fans focused on how his music made them feel and what memories it evoked.
Hugh Masekela. May God comfort his family. His music will always remind us of him— Joy Inc 🇰🇪 (@JoyWangechiK) January 23, 2018
See When artists die they they don't fed. To #Hugh_masekela we will still groove to young sound. You've built that landmark so strong— P.A.U.L (@McmEvo) January 23, 2018
Oh no! Condolences go out to the family and friends of Hugh Masekela. My dad lived his Jazz music. I remember listening to his song “Grazing in the Grass” as a child back in 1968. Rest In Peace!— Alfred Villanueva (@WhiteSTX150) January 23, 2018
It is clear that though Hugh Masekela may be gone, his music and the actions and people he inspired will remain.
What are your memories of Hugh Masekela's music? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and on our Twitter.