Hugh Masekela is Now Taking the Literary Route

By Edward Tsumele

Photograph by Mabuti Kali

World-renowned South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who has just returned from a very successful tour of Europe, Ghana and Nigeria, is going literary.

Masekela, whose latest album Jabulani rates as one of his best, will publish a novel just in time for next Easter.

He told Sowetan yesterday it took him 13 years to complete the novel, titled Honky.

“This is going to be a Johannesburg thriller that readers will not be able to put down,” Masekela said.

“Honky is about a successful black musician just back from exile. He likes performing around the country. Then one day, while returning from a performance, he gives a white woman a lift to her home in Killarney. The woman is found dead the next day. The person who was last seen with her is Honky, whose real name is Sir Holonko. For now that is all I am prepared to say about Honky,” he said.

A few years ago he published a controversial biography , but Honky is his first work of fiction.

He said that there would be more novels from him in the future.

The trumpeter’s musical repertoire is diverse and he is comfortable playing jazz, original compositions as well as African folk music.

He said his recent tour of Europe took him to the UK, Germany and Spain.

Having played music for over half a century, taking him from Sophiatown’s cultural melting pot to England, the US, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea, Masekela is probably our foremost South African musical export. And he is increasingly in demand overseas.

Asked about whether he would consider slowing down, Masekela said: “Music is my life. I cannot retire from myself. This is my job. I have always been involved with music in one form or another. I have never worked for anyone in my life.

“Well, there are other things that I am involved in such as HIV education and I am also involved in heritage restoration.

“We South Africans are fast losing our culture and heritage as a people. One day, with the way young people are losing touch with where we come from, we should not be surprised when our children say: ‘We used to be African. It is so tragic that it’s not funny the way and manner in which our rich culture is being forgotten’,” Masekela lamented.

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