Hugh Masekela is one of the prominent South African singers who was able to create a musical bridge between African and American continent. Hugh mix American jazz with African folk songs which made him an avatar in world music and also a comrade to his countryman due to his efforts on the anti-apartheid campaign. Hugh died on January 23rd at the age of 78 in Johannesburg.
Bra Hugh, as he is commonly known in South Africa, played the cornet, trumpet as well as fluegelhorn. He drew from genres such as mbaqanga and disco which is affectionately South Africa dance music. Moreover, Hugh explored the heavy sound of Afro-beats. In the year 1987, he wrote the anti-apartheid demonstration anthem after being in exile for three-decades for political reasons. The song titles “Bring Him Back Home” referred to the ANC president Nelson Mandela an imprisoned political activist who would later become the presidents of South Africa.
Despite heavy criticism from Jazz community about his style of music, Bra Hugh songs never strayed far from politics. In various concerts, he elaborated the meaning of the songs such as “Soweto Blues,” which talked about the 1976 massacre of students from black community and “Stimela (Coal Train),” which describes the plight of displaced workers in Johannesburg.