JOHANNESBURG, January 23 – South African legendary trumpeter, composer and jazz musician Hugh Masekela lost his battle with prostate cancer on Tuesday morning, his family has confirmed. He was 78 years old.
“It is with profound sorrow that the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing. After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, surrounded by his family,” the family said in a statement.
“A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with 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 memory of millions across six continents and we are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of six decades.”
Masekela had been in treatment for prostate cancer since 2008 when doctors discovered a small “speck” on his bladder. The treatment seemed to be successful, but in March 2016 he had to undergo surgery as the cancer had spread.
In April 2017 while in Morocco, Masekela fell and sprained his shoulder. He began to feel an imbalance when he was walking and his left eye was troubling him.
Another tumour was discovered and subsequently, in September 2017, he had emergency treatment, and the tumour was neutralised. But that left him unable to perform and he had to cancel plans to perform at the 4th annual Heritage Festival held in his honour in October.
The family said that it would release the details of memorial and burial services in due course.
“Hugh Masekela was someone who always engaged robustly with the press on musical and social political issues. We laud the press for respecting his privacy through his convalescence, and during this, our time of grief. Our gratitude to all and sundry for your condolences and support.”
Messages of condolences have already started pouring in on social media, with the Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa tweeting: “A baobab tree has fallen, the nation has lost a one of a kind musician with the passing of Jazz legend bra Hugh Masekela. We can safely say bra Hugh was one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz and he uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music,” Mthethwa said.
Here are some of the tributes on social media:
A baobab tree has fallen, the nation has lost a one of a kind musician with the passing of Jazz legend bra Hugh Masekela. We can safely say bra Hugh was one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz and he uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music. #RIPBraHughMasekela pic.twitter.com/JVy47GA6aU
— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) January 23, 2018
Sad news just in, Hugh Masekela has passed away. RIP legend. pic.twitter.com/GOWcd8AxmS
— Kgoshi ya Lebowa (@Marcellomj) January 23, 2018
— Bulelani Phillip (@BulelaniPhillip) January 23, 2018
He was one of the best musicians in the country. His music will relive in our heart.We lost another legend 😢
Rest In Peace Bra Hugh Masekela pic.twitter.com/nyrXUAP0rj
— #Ndivhu_M_pictures 🇿🇦 (@Ndivhu_M_) January 23, 2018
– African News Agency (ANA),