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Hugh Masekela dies aged 78


Hugh Ramopolo Masekela  was born in Witbank on 4 April 1939, a mining town in eastern South Africa, and was given his first trumpet by the anti-apartheid activist archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s that became a launchpad for many of South Africa’s most famous jazz musicians.

He was considered the "father of South African jazz. Masekela was known for his jazz compositions and for writing well-known anti-apartheid songs such as "Soweto Blues" and "Bring Him Back Home". He also had a number 1 US pop hit in 1968 with his version of "Grazing in the Grass"

Masekela went on to study in the UK and the US, where he had significant success. In 1976 he composed Soweto Blues in response to the uprising in the vast township.

He toured with major stars such as Paul Simon but continued his political engagement, writing Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Towards the end of a career that spanned five decades he performed at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg.


Hugh Masekela, the legendary South African jazz musician, has died aged 78.

A statement from the trumpeter’s family said that Masekela passed peacefully in Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for much of his life.
"A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with a profound loss. Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memories of millions across six continents," the statement read.
Masekela had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade.

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