Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. has proclaimed March 18 on St. Croix and March 19 on St. Thomas as “Hugh Masekela Day” in the U.S. Virgin Islands in honor of the legendary South African musician.
Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, a trumpeter, flugel hornist, cornetist, composer, band leader and singer, was born April 4, 1939 in Kwa-Guqa Township, Witbank, South Africa. Throughout his career, he has created music that closely reflects his life’s experiences and vividly expresses the struggles, hardships, conflicts and sorrows of the people of South Africa, as well as the joys and passions of his country.
Masekela spent 30 years in exile for his role in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. At the start of that period, his first song, “Grazing in the Grass,” topped the U.S. charts in 1968 and sold over four million copies worldwide. In 1987, he released the hit single, “Bring Him Back Home,” which became the anthem for the movement to free former South African President Nelson Mandela.
He has performed with many of the world’s top jazz ensembles, and his life story has been featured in various South African documentary films. He has received several prestigious awards, including the African Music Legend Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2002 International Award of the Year. Among the highlights of his career, Masekela gave a critically acclaimed performance at the 2010 World Cup Kick-off concert in South Africa.
This week, there are a number of special events taking place with Masekela, including:
Thursday, March 17th, 6-7 p.m. Hugh Masekela will give a free lecture about his work as an activist, including how his music raised international awareness of apartheid. The lecture will be in the Great Hall, University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix campus. The public on St. Thomas can enjoy the lecture in the ACC Building, room 142 1B and 146 1A as a video link on the UVI’s St. Thomas campus. A brief question and answer session will follow.
Masekela will also perform in concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 18, on St. Croix, at Island Center for the Performing Arts and at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, on St. Thomas at the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
Masekela arrived in the territory on Tuesday and departs on Sunday. Governor de Jongh calls on Virgin Islanders to join him in observing Hugh Masekela Day to honor a great musician, humanitarian and civil rights activist.