Tribute to Bra Hugh

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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