A Tribute to Hugh Masekela

by Khensani de Klerk & Larah Fisher |feature visual by Sarah Fisher


Bra Hugh,

You told it the most true.

We’ve got the Afro beat blues.

The sorrows of that troubling

Turbulent time

– in the rhymes

Of your instrumental linguistics

Speaking, transcending, singing, reverberating



In worn out surface

Stretched, softened, beaten

drums of our hearts

Singing in protest

Generations tapping your tunes

Our parents humming your songs

Our earphones blasting your beats

In the endless state of this Apartheid?

You said it yourself’

“Nothing much has changed except that we can vote”

Your jazz, you told stories through every note.

Drinking alcohol in clubs,

Reckless youth we are

We aspire, only, merely aspire

To reimagine states of talk

We aspire

To listen. Patiently, wisely

And fiercely

Speak that truth!

You told it most true,

“There’s still economic Apartheid, Architectural Apartheid

I’m no minister,

I don’t need to forgive”

Soft obvious laugh, still fresh, after

Relentlessly blowing exhausted air

Resilient lungs,

Tenaciously trumpeting

Telling it true!

We listen, in awe

You’re right bab’ Hugh

You knew

Millennials in a conglomeration we are

Mix match, this that


Until Sunday comes

And the radio hums

Your songs unlock our ancestral amnesia

You tell it true!

Let us keep the radio on

Volume up

So that we can resist the meticulous coding

Of this system, set up

“The colonials don’t have to do that job anymore-

Africans do it themselves”

Let us not forget

How to read the intangible

Notes of nostalgia

We will miss you

Notes of power

Pulling us through times



You told it most true!

Bless you,

Bra Hugh,

Bab’ Hugh.




Ndzi khense nqopfu,

Thank you.



Masekela, Hugh, interview by Zeinab Badawi. The Hard Talk BBC News. June 23, 2015.



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