Masekela Takes on Kirstenbosch

Sindy Peters


Masekela Takes on Kirstenbosch – Like a Boss!

Celebrating the last Sunday of March 2012 at a mass gathering fronted by Hugh Masekela turned out to be an excellent choice. Considering this was the jazz maestro’s first appearance as part of the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert line-up, it was well worth the wait! Starting us off slowly with some moody jazz, Masekela and his band had Cape Town jiving on its feet by the end.

This penultimate concert was a sold out success hosting a multicultural audience bound together by a love for Afro-jazz and a healthy respect for a man who’s been following his passion for 56 years. At the age of 72, Masekela still has rhythm and blues coursing through his veins – from the tips of his toes, which never seem to stop moving, to his gyrating hips and up to his vocal chords, which allow his voice to reverberate far beyond the stage. He is one of the great orators of modern history, evoking emotion through his music no matter where he delivers it. He is a high chief in the community of jazz.

Demeanour of a rockstar

Masekela doesn’t know the meaning of going meekly and mildly into the setting sun, as he commands the stage with the attitude and demeanour of a rock star with moves that would put a 20-year-old to shame. Encouraging the crowd to set their inhibitions aside for a moment, we freed up our throats and roared in appreciation and literally got down to the music, with many in front participating briefly in “The Bus” dance – looked like an impromptu flash mob.




Children danced in the aisles, perfect strangers became dancing duos and the majestic African voice echoed as one in Kirstenbosch as the crowd sang in unison to many of his well-known songs.

It was a joyous occasion that left me feeling sincerely proudly South African once the curtain figuratively drew on the encore performance.

This was my first experience of a Hugh Masekela concert – jazz isn’t really my favourite genre, but after setting my prejudice aside, it won’t be my last.