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Hugh Masekela Honoured by Wits University

WITS University

Music icon Hugh Masekela tells graduands to “go out there and kick some booty’.

Wits University today conferred on honorary Doctor of Music degree on Bra Hugh Masekela in the Great Hall, the same stage where he performed as a 19-year-old member of the orchestra in the opening concert of Todd Matshikiza’s landmark jazz opera King Kong.

“I am deeply honoured and honesty humbled,” Masekela said in his acceptance speech.

He implored graduands to become the “new pioneers of African heritage restoration at a time when we seem to be leaning on the brink of being wholly swallowed by most Western culture and several Middle Eastern and Eastern civilizations to the exclusion of our own traditions”.

Masekela says there are innumerable alarming reasons that African society needs to heed for the revival of African heritage restoration, such as the gradual demise of the mother tongue in almost all African countries. “A decade or two from now, African society will be the first in human history to have abandoned its native tongues in preference to those manipulated by colonial rule if we do not soon reinstitute our own languages back into our homes, schools and social interaction with each other.”

He told graduands to learn and teach “our own history” instead of the European education that still consumes us – something that has left us convinced that our heritage is “backward, savage, pagan, primitive, barbaric and uncivilized”.

“We have long relegated our magnificent vernacular literature to the dust and insect-infested floors of crumbling old warehouses in favour of imported writings, hip hop, rap and other forms of trending fashions that distance us as far as possible from our rich traditional legacy.

“We need to study, learn, and teach our traditional music, dance, oral literature and more in our own academies and future educational institutions where we can revive and redevelop what has been lost from the positive content of our glorious history without abandoning the best of what the West has brought to our otherwise void-encrusted lives,” he said.

Masekela also called for a return to the trader society, the great manufacturing civilization Africa once was, and to “cease being consumer fodder”.

“The time is now for Africans to rediscover and regenerate the existing wealth of their artisanship and original design talents and skills so that we can begin to manufacture furniture, linens, cutlery, crockery, bedding, clothing, interior décor materials and fabrics and other household goods for retail and export not exclusive of traditional architecture and construction to replace the frenzied purchase of commodities from other lands.”

“Go out there and kick some booty,” he said resulting in a thundering applause from graduands.



No Borders Picks Up SAMA

No Borders News

Love SA Entertainment
Simon Hodgson

Last night, 26 May saw the first night of SAMA23 taking place at Sun City.

The night belonged to Khaya Mthethwa. The former Idols SA winner picked up two trophies for his album The Dawn in the Best Contemporary Faith Music Album and Best Live Audio Visual Recording categories.

It was a good night for gospel as the late singer S’fiso Ncwane won the Best Selling Digital Artist for his album Ngipholise Nkosi; and gospel ensemble Joyous Celebration’s Joyous 20 DVD, earned them the Best Selling DVD gong.

The stage is set for a showdown between two of the most nominated artists as Kwesta and Amanda Black took home one award apiece. Kwesta triumphed in the Best Collaboration Award category with his monster hit Ngud’ while Amanda collected the Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album for her release Amazulu.

They go into the main awards show tomorrow night with four nominations each.

In a SAMA first, Nigerian reggae/dancehall singer Patoranking won the inaugural Best African Artist.

Other notable winners from tonight are Hugh Masekela for Best Adult Contemporary Album for No Borders; the young dynamic duo Soul Kulture for Best African Adult Album for Ngeliny’ilanga; and Nduduzo Makhathini with Umgidi Trio and One Voice Vocal Ensemble for Best Jazz Album for Inner Dimensions.

In the technical awards, Sjava’s Isina Muva won the Best Produced Album of the Year; Arno Carstens’ Aandblom took Best Engineered Album of the Year; while Best Music Video of the Year went to Miss Pru for Ameni.

Here is the full list of winners. The main awards show will be live on SABC 1 tonight at 8pm.

Best Adult Contemporary

Hugh Masekela – No Borders

Best African Adult

Soul Kulture – Ngeliny’ilanga

Best Alternative Music Album

Native Young – Kings

Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album

Amanda Black – Amazulu

Best Contemporary Faith Music Album

Khaya Mthethwa – The Dawn

Beste Pop Album

ADAM – Hoogtevrees

Best Jazz Album

Nduduzo Makhathini with Umgidi Trio and One Voice Vocal Ensemble – Inner Dimensions

Best Classical and/Instrumental Album

Charl du Plessis Trio – Baroqueswing Vol. II

Best Traditional Music Album

Dr Thomas Chauke Na Shinyori Sisters – Shimatsatsa No 34: Xiganga

Best African Artist

Patoranking – Patoranking

Best Live Audio Visual Recording

Khaya Mthethwa -The Dawn

Best Collaboration

Kwesta – Ngud’

Best Music Video of the Year

Miss Pru – Ameni

Best Produced Album of the Year

sjava – Isina Muva

Best Engineered Album of the Year

Arno Carstens – Aandblom 13

Best Remix of the Year

Vic – Wena Wedwa (MusicCraftMAN Mix)

Best Selling DVD of the Year

Joyous Celebration 20

Best Selling Digital Artist

Sfiso Ncwane – Ngipholise Nkosi

Best Selling Album of the Year

My Hart Bly In n Taal – Refentse

CAPASSO Best Selling Digital Download Composer’s Award

Sfiso Ncwane – Ngipholise Nkosi

UKZN Honours Masekela with Doctorate

UKZN Doctorate

Fanele Mhlongo

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has conferred honorary doctorates on African Music Legend, Hugh Masekela, and international environmental activist, Dr Kumi Naidoo.

Masekela has been awarded a Doctor of Music Degree for his outstanding contribution to the music industry, while Dr Kumi Naidoo was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the South African struggle for democracy, the international fight against climate change and the struggle against poverty and injustice.

Dr Naidoo is the launch director of the Pan African social movement, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity.

Masekela was honoured during a graduation ceremony of the College of Humanities. He is a popular African music legend whose campaign through music has contributed to the fight for a free South Africa.

Masekela is a world-renowned musician and a political struggle icon. He has mentored a generation of producers and musicians who have contributed to the teaching and practical knowledge of jazz and popular music in South Africa and globally.

He says mother tongue-languages should be prioritised.

“As you open a new door to the rest of your lives, I request you to consider a number of issues that pertain to restoring excellence of African heritage back into our lives without abandoning the best elements of what we inherited from the western world. Volumes of African language, history and literature books lay covered with dust and ticks in basements and warehouses all over the continent and parts of Europe,” says Masekela.

When asked about the political situation in the country and the recent #FeesMustFall campaigns at tertiary institutions, Masekela says a number of things need more attention in the country.

“Many things must fall in South Africa not just fees, many things because I think that we have to recapture what was fought for and what many people died for in this country.”

Meanwhile, Dr Kumi Naidoo who has been recognised for his contribution to the South African struggle for democracy has condemned violence.

Naidoo says people in rural areas are still lagging behind in terms of service delivery which leads to community protests.

Naidoo, who was also active in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa during his student years, has called on young activists to speak up.

Naidoo and Masakela say they are humbled at being recognised by academia for their contribution to South Africa’s struggle for freedom.

Best Of MTVMAMA 2016

MTV Mama

Hugh Masekela Speaks On The Restoration Of Our Heritage And Languages

By Stella WaAfrika


Last night, Saturday 22nd October, the MTV Africa Music Awards were held at the TicketPro Dome in South Africa. This was the first time the ceremony was held in Johannesburg, hosted by Bonang Matheba, Nomzamo Mbatha and Yemi Alade, who replaced Trevor Noah.

South African music legend, Bra Hugh Masekela was a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution in the industry. He started off thanking Africans all over the world for their support. The music icon did not waste any time; in his acceptance speech he expressed how we should restore the best elements of our heritage back into our lives and how as artists they should reflect our stories because as artists, they can’t always keep asking us to romance and dance all the time.

He further added, failing to restore our heritage and promoting our indigenous languages will probably one day have our children asked who they are and their response will be, “They say we used to be Africans very long ago.” Imagine that?

Watch the ceremony here

Hugh Masekela wins at Jazz FM Awards

Photograph: Don’t Shoot Yourself (UK) Ltd

The second Jazz FM Awards, in partnership with Serious, took place tonight at the Great Halls at Vinopolis, London Bridge, establishing itself as the most prestigious accolade for jazz.

The night, hosted by actor and The Fast Show’s ‘Jazz Club’ Louis Balfour, John Thomson, featured stunning performances from PPL Lifetime Achievement winner Hugh Masekela who performed with Larry Willis, a beautiful tribute from Rebecca Ferguson, celebrating the centenary of Billie Holiday, and the House Gospel Choir. A surprise performance of the night came from Soul Artist Of The Year winner Jarrod Lawson. A wealth of talent was in attendance and celebrated with the winners with eleven awards being presented on the night recognising distinction and commending those that have made an exceptional contribution to Jazz, Blues and Soul.

Gregory Porter took his second Jazz FM award win with International Jazz Artist of the Year. The ‘Liquid Spirit’ singer successfully crossed over with his 2014 album recently reaching no.9 in the UK charts. The charming baritone is already widely regarded as one of the finest singers of his time, despite having only come to prominence in recent years. As a gospel, blues, jazz and soul singer in one package, he successfully saw off competition from drummer Antonio Sanchez, who wrote the soundtrack to the Oscar winning motion picture ‘Birdman’, and the powerhouse fusion-band Snarky Puppy.

Snarky Puppy’s pianist Bill Laurance won the Breakthrough Act award, having received widespread success and critical acclaim for his highly anticipated album ‘Swift’. Delivered with more classical leanings than the straightforward funk of Snarky Puppy, Laurance successfully demonstrates how deep groove and classical sensibility can sit happily side by side.

World-renowned multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer and singer Hugh Masekela was commended with the PPL Lifetime Achievement Award for both his outstanding contribution to music globally and as an incredibly important political voice. The South African artist who was a pillar of the anti-apartheid movement and has worked with every jazz legend imaginable commented:

“Over the past 45 years, England and particularly London has been a principal centre in my developmental journey to the place I have ultimately reached today in my life as a musician. Jazz FM has been a prime centre of support for me since its inception. It is therefore a humbling and highly fulfilling privilege for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award. I thank all who have supported me on an often difficult but ultimately joyous voyage which has brought me thus far down this musical highway.’

Jarrod Lawson won Soul Artist Of The Year. An impressive feat having gone up against the renowned D’Angelo and ‘the first daughter of soul’ Lalah Hathaway. The blue-eyed soul boy’s meteoric rise to fame saw him playing two sold out shows at the Jazz Cafe on his first visit to the UK. With a virtuosic talent on the piano and an ability to groove like the legends he takes much inspiration from, Lawson is one of the biggest soul-jazz sensations in years. Jarrod gave a surprise performance at the awards with his rendition of Leon Russell’s ‘A Song For You’.

Manchester three piece GoGo Penguin collected the gong for the public voted award, Jazz Act Of The Year. The band, made up of pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner, saw their profile raised after being nominated for a Mercury Award last year. GoGo Penguin’s hard-hitting jazz-meets-electronica was up against the London based Sons Of Kemet and Polar Bear for the award.

Son Of Kemet did not walk away completely empty handed as Instrumentalist Of The Year went to their incomparable bandleader and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. The innovative saxophonist went up against pianist Alexander Hawkins and trumpeter Laura Jurd for the award.

Vocalist Of The Year was an all female affair with nominations including Lauren Kinsella and Alice Zawadzki, with the award ultimately going to the much deserving Zara McFarlane. The MOBO award winning artist’s second album ‘If You Knew Her’ (released in 2014) was a sublime blend of neo-soul infused with her jazz heritage, allowing her to show her skill for fantastic song writing and flair for jazz improv.

Best Album (chosen by public vote) went to Dianne Reeves for her spectacular album ‘Beautiful Life’ which showcases her sublime ability to blur the lines between R&B, latin, pop and jazz. The album features an all-star cast including Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona, vocalists Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway, pianists Robert Glasper and Gerald Clayton and Reeves’ cousin and frequent longtime collaborator, the late great George Duke.

Best Live Experience (chosen by public vote) was awarded to Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival ‘ the group’s first show in 24 years. The 21-piece band featured an all-star cast including keyboardist Django Bates, saxophonists Mark Lockheart (Polar Bear) and Iain Ballamy (Food), the irrepressible trombonist and charismatic MC Ashley Slater (Freak Power, Kitten and the Hip) plus trumpeter Chris Batchelor (Big Air). The pioneering act who were at their most productive in the 80s inspired a generation of musicians, and their set of classics and new commissions alike had fans on their feet for a standing ovation at Cheltenham.

The Innovation Award went to Jason Moran who has been constantly pushing the boundaries of the genre and challenging the ideas of what it is to experience jazz in the live arena. Since his emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, the jazz pianist has collaborated with dancers, skateboarders, artists, actors and varied ensembles. As a recording artist he has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator in almost every category; improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation. In 2014 Jason successfully took his first step into scoring a major feature film with the Oscar Winning Selma.

New Orleans icon and rock and roll hall of famer Dr. John was recognized with the Blues Artist Of The Year Award. The six-time Grammy Award winner is a bona fide legend whose 2014 and 2015 world tours included sold-out shows throughout the U.S. and Europe.

The Jazz FM Awards 2015 is a partnership between Jazz FM and Serious and was made possible with the support of Aberdeen Asset Management, Audemus Spirits, CityJet, Conrad London St. James, Denbies Wine Estate, Mishcon De Reya, PPL, Taylor’s Port, Vinopolis, Voss, 7digital and Yamaha Music.

images/stories/jazz fm awards-8.jpg

Photograph: Don't Shoot Yourself (UK) Ltd
Photograph: Don’t Shoot Yourself (UK) Ltd

Full list of WINNERS (and nominees) for the Jazz FM Awards 2015:

Album of the Year (Public vote):

WINNER: Dianne Reeves (‘Beautiful Life’)

Nominees: Ambrose Akinmusire (‘The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint’), D’Angelo (‘Black Messiah’), Chris Potter Underground Orchestra (‘Imaginary Cities’), Polar Bear (‘In Each and Every One’), Troyka (‘Ornithophobia’)

Live Experience of the Year, sponsored by 7digital (Public Vote):

WINNER: Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Nominees: Blue Note 75th Birthday at EFG London Jazz Festival, Jamie Cullum at Love Supreme Jazz Festival

UK Jazz Act of the Year sponsored by Yamaha Music (Public Vote):

WINNER: GoGo Penguin

Nominees: Polar Bear, Sons of Kemet

Breakthrough Act, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management:

WINNER: Bill Laurance

Nominees: GoGo Penguin, Peter Edwards

Instrumentalist of the Year:

WINNER: Shabaka Hutchings

Nominees: Alex Hawkins, Laura Jurd

Vocalist of the Year, sponsored by CityJet:

WINNER: Zara McFarlane

Nominees: Alice Zawadzki, Lauren Kinsella

Jazz Innovation of the Year, sponsored by Mishcon de Reya:

WINNER: Jason Moran

Nominees: Henry Threadgill, Theo Croker

International Jazz Artist of the Year, sponsored by Taylor’s Port:

WINNER: Gregory Porter

Nominees: Snarky Puppy, Antonio Sanchez

Blues Artist of the Year:


Nominees: Otis Taylor, Valerie June

Soul Artist of the Year, sponsored by Conrad London St. James:

WINNER: Jarrod Lawson

Nominees: D’Angelo, Lalah Hathaway

PPL Lifetime Achievement:

Hugh Masekela

“Then give up colonial lifestyles”

rhodes statue cropped

The Herald
Zandile Mbabela

Photograph by Eugene Coetzee
Photograph by Eugene Coetzee

Trumpeting his views: If African people were so concerned about colonialism they would have to give up their largely colonial lifestyles, jazz legend Hugh Masekela said when he was presented with an honorary doctorate in music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown yesterday. Masekela was commenting on the current campaign to remove or destroy colonial-era monuments. He commended the youth for their activism, but said there were more pressing issues that needed tackling.

Jazz maestro Hugh Masekela criticised the campaign to destroy and have removed all remnants of colonialism, saying if African people were so concerned about it they would have to give up their largely colonial lifestyles.

Masekela – who received his fourth honorary doctorate, from Rhodes University, last night – said while he was encouraged by seeing young people stand for something, there were far more pressing issues needing energy and attention.

“If we were really concerned about colonisation, we would be walking around naked {because} clothes are a colonial thing and our entire lifestyles are colonial,” he said.

“In this country, a woman is raped every few minutes, we have crime, corruption, and a country that is fast turning into a rubbish dump. There are so many things to worry about.

“I’m encouraged that the born-free generation that has always been seen to be complacent is now standing up for something, but I wish that the same energy would be put into the other pressing issues as well.”

In his acceptance speech at the 1820 Settlers Monument in Grahamstown yesterday, Masekela said people did not realise just how entrenched the colonial culture was.

“We are so absorbed in other cultures that we do not realise that we spend billions of dollars on colonially introduced things.

“We do not realise we spend billions on other people’s hair,” he said, to awkward laughter.

The musician appears opposed to hair extensions and will not consent to photographs with people with fake hair. He dedicated the doctor of music degree to his late father, Thomas Selema Masekela, who did not have a degree and marvelled at those who did, including his wife who had three.

“One of my father’s biggest wishes was to have a degree, so this is for you, Selema,” he said.

Masekela jets off to Zimbabwe today for the start of a tour.

He treated graduation attendees to a rendition of a song by his ex-wife, the late Miriam Makeba, with Rhodes student Lonwabo Mafani on keyboard.

Rhodes gives Hugh Masekela an honorary doctorate

Photograph by Nikita Ramkissoon

Times Live

Photograph by Nikita Ramkissoon

Jazz icon Hugh Masekela will receive an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University Thursday 9th April.

The university said Masekela was “without doubt one of South Africa’s most successful artists and his influence on world music has been nothing short of phenomenal”.

“The university is ideally placed to acknowledge Masekela’s unique appreciation of the struggles of ordinary people in their movement between town and country‚” spokesman Zamuxolo Matiwana said.

“It is located in the Eastern Cape‚ the source of the migrant labour depicted in his Stimela song‚ an area that forcibly or otherwise recruited labour for the urban centres of South Africa for at least two centuries.

“Awarding Masekela an honorary doctorate recognises both his inestimable contribution to South African music and its place in the world. It also contributes significantly to the vision of making International Library of African Music at Rhodes‚ a living monument to African musical accomplishment of which Masekela is one of the most formidable examples.”

The university will also award honorary doctorates to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‚ art expert David Koloane and former Vice-Chancellor Dr Saleem Badat on Friday‚ while on Saturday‚ welfare activist Professor Francie Lund will receive an honorary doctorate.

Lund is most well known for chairing The Lund Committee of Enquiry on Child and Family Support in 1995‚ which led to the establishment of the Child Support Grant in 1998.

She also led major research initiatives‚ including a landmark project in the 1980s which attempted to map the scale of inequity in welfare provision‚ particularly in the Eastern Cape‚ and the deficit in provision between the previous “white” South African system of welfare and the appalling provision of welfare for blacks located in the “Bantustans” such as Transkei and Ciskei.

Jazz FM Awards 2015

Photograph by Sarah Lee

Jazz FM Awards to Return in June to Celebrate Jazz FM’s 25th year

Jazz FM
Press Release

Jazz FM is delighted to announce that the Jazz FM Awards will return for a second year on Wednesday June 10th 2015 in the Great Halls at Vinopolis, London Bridge. The awards will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jazz FM, launched in 1990. Legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award on the night.

Eleven awards will be presented to honour musicians and performers that have made an exceptional contribution within of jazz, blues and soul. The award categories are:

• Breakthrough Act

• Instrumentalist of the Year

• Album of the Year

• Jazz Innovation of the Year

• Live Experience of the Year

• UK Jazz Act of the Year

• International Jazz Artist of the Year

• Blues Artist of the Year

• Soul Artist of the Year

• Vocalist of the Year

• Lifetime Achievement – to be presented to Hugh Masekela

This unique event presented by Jazz FM and Serious will celebrate the wealth of talent demonstrated in jazz music over the last 12 months with live performances including Hugh Masekela, who will be joined by American jazz pianist Larry Willis.

Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer, singer and defiant anti-apartheid campaigner. A proud South African he was born in the town of Witbank he went on to work with Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, The Byrds, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Herb Alpert, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and notably his former wife the late Miriam Makeba. A pillar of the anti-apartheid movement, Hugh returned to his home country in 1990 following a 30 year exile. In 2010 President Zuma honoured him with the highest order in South Africa: The Order of Ikhamanga. Masekela will also play the Barbican in London on Monday 8th June and Love Supreme Festival on 5th July as part of his busy international tour schedule.

Jazz FM Chairman Richard Wheatly said: “We’re proud to be celebrating 25 years of Jazz FM at this year’s Awards which recognise the best musicians and performers. The evening is set to be a fantastic occasion, bringing together the jazz world’s finest with Hugh Masekela headlining what will be an unforgettable night.”

The Jazz FM Awards first took place in 2013 creating a memorable night of live music and celebration. Performances included a world first collaboration by Jamie Cullum and the inaugural Jazz FM Awards lifetime Achievement winner Ahmad Jamal with recognition of amazing accomplishments from Robert Glasper, Gregory Porter, Kurt Elling and more.

The Jazz FM Awards 2015 is a partnership between Jazz FM and Serious and is made possible with the support of Aberdeen Asset Management, Taylor’s Port, Mishcon De Reya and Arqiva.

Bra Hugh Awarded University of York Honorary Doctorate

Photograph by Suzy Harrison

Press Release

Photograph by Suzy Harrison

The University of York awarded 16 honorary degrees to Nobel Laureates, authors, scientists, humanitarians,musicians and activist Hugh Masekela. He is among 16 people to receive honorary doctorates at the University’s graduation ceremonies over the past three days.

Every year, the University confers honorary degrees on people who have made a significant contribution to society. Honorary graduates are selected from nominations by members of the University and often have existing links with academic departments or are York alumni.

A trumpeter, flugelhornist, singer and defiant political voice of international repute who remains deeply connected to his home country.

His eclectic musical style is pervaded by jazz and mbaqanga combined with a gravelly voice, stirringly smooth horn sound and an ever-present concern for his home country and continent. He recently founded his own music label, House of Masekela, under which he released his latest album ‘Playing @ Work’.

Born in Witbank, South Africa in 1939, he was given a trumpet at age 14 by Louis Armstrong and is still blowing strong at 75. He spent much of his life in exile during which time he released over 40 albums and was featured on countless more. He has been honoured in numerous ways such as receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at WOMEX, being granted a Gold Medal of the Order of Ikhamanga in 2010 by the South African government and having 18 March proclaimed ‘Hugh Masekela Day’ in the US Virgin Islands. York University honors Bra Hugh with his second honorary doctorate, the first coming from the Vaal University of Technology in 2011.

Dr Hugh Masekela received the award this morning during a graduation ceremony in University hall where he electrified students and academics with his words and music.

Photograph by Suzy Harrison
Photograph by Suzy Harrison

He is awarded alongside:

Nobel Prize Winner Professor Sir James Mirrlees
Executive Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park (named UK Museum of the Year), Peter Murray CBE
Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi-American humanitarian, entrepreneur, author, filmmaker and media commentator who has dedicated herself to international women’s rights and freedom;
Distinguished author, Mairi MacInnes;
Professor Derek Pearsall
Professor Ahmed Zewail
Professor Padmanabhan Balaram
Professor Bertrand Meyer
Gary Verity
Liz Wilson
Professor Paulo Gadelha
Professor Anne Treisman
Professor Mike Kelly
Roland Keating
Dr Susanna Moorehead

US Churches Honour Bra Hugh


The TimesAndile Ndlovu

Veteran trumpeter Hugh Masekela followed in Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s footsteps in being honoured with a “Keepers of the Flame” award at the African American Church Inaugural Ball on Sunday night.

The event – to honour Barack Obama’s re-election as US president – follows the one in 2009 when Obama assumed office.

Masekela performed a musical tribute to former president Nelson Mandela at the black-tie event held at The Grand Hyatt in Washington.

The event’s programme read: “Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned musician, composer, and a defiant political voice who remains deeply connected to his homeland and the world.

“The agony, conflict, and exploitation South Africa faced during the 1950s and 1960s inspired the world. Masekela is known for his musical mix of jazz, bebop, funk and Afrobeat. He has won numerous awards, made countless records and established himself as a towering musical presence.”

The event was themed “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

Others honoured included boxing legend Muhammad Ali; the first African American astronaut candidate, Ed Dwight; the first African American to be appointed as surgeon-general of the US, Jocelyn Elders; and singer Aretha Franklin.

The Rev W Franklyn Richardson, who is the chairman of the Conference of National Black Churches, hosted the event.

Those honoured in 2009 included author and poet Maya Angelou, publisher and philanthropist Earl Graves snr, civil rights activist and Baptist minister the Rev Al Sharpton and Tutu.

Journalist Roland Martin tweeted yesterday: “Just got a wonderful word of encouragement from South African artist Hugh Masekela! He said I have lots of fans in the Motherland! #honored [sic].

“Masekela said to always speak truth on @cnn and don’t stop fighting. We need your voice to speak to the world. I was touched by his words .”