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Hugh Masekela Turns 70 And Still Going Strong

Hugh Masekela Musician and Political Activist
South African Recording Artist and Jazz Legend Hugh Masekela turned 70 years old over the weekend. He was in Cape Town for the Tenth Annual Cape Town Jazz Festival. Hugh Masekela, who is known for his outspoken civil rights stance, was said to be at it again this weekend during his performance. He said that South African could lose its musical magic which was created during the years of apartheid. Masekela told reports, that the colorful music, art and culture which thrived in the communities during the bleak days of segregation in danger. He said that if all those things are not brought back into our lives our kids will say ‘They say we used to be Africans’. Masekela said that day is coming and it is very sad. Masekela recalls that period of carnivals, singing churches, marching bands and orchestras: a time when people had entertainment all weekend.
The “Grazin’ in the Grass” artist bemoans the lack of training grounds for young musicians who used to be surrounded by the informal arts. With other South African musicians of the era — such as the recently deceased Miriam Makeba to whom he was once married — Masekela played a key role in inspiring the musical fight against apartheid. In a career spanning some 50 years, the Grammy-nominated musician, who spent much of his life in exile, claims he has been “obsessed” and “victimized” by music, finding inspiration anywhere and everywhere. At “one hell of a” birthday party in 1971, while dancing intimately with a woman he remembers rushing off to the nearest piano where he started singing his hit “Stimela”. Another time, he received a letter of encouragement from Nelson Mandela sent from prison which brought tears to his eye and saw “Bring back Nelson Mandela” spill from him — a song that would became an anthem for anti-apartheid activism.
Masekela, who released a new album Phola this year, rushed off to lunch with Mandela, according to reports, and told the reporters that the highlight of his career is still “coming home” after all the years in exile.

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