Legendary South African jazz musician, Hugh Ramopolo Masekela has died, aged 78 after losing a decade-long battle with prostate cancer.
The news broke early this morning when an unnamed high ranking official tweeted and then deleted the news.
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
Masekela helped launch the career of Miriam Makeba whom he later married in 1964. The coupe divorced two years later.
Through his music, Masekela has been a staunch political activist and he has worked, lived and performed across the globe. During his career, he also amassed an incredible number of awards and other accolades including the Order of Ikhamanga. He also held two honorary doctorates from Rhodes University and the University of York.
The Masekela family shared their thoughts in a statement as followed, "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 6 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 6 decades. Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts."
Masekela leaves behind his wife of 18 years, Elinam Cofie, his daughter, Pula Twala, and his son, Selema "Sal" Masekela, from his relationship with Haitian Jessie Marie Lapierre. Some of you may remember that Sal worked for global Entertainment channel, E! long before it launched its African contingent.
"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," added the Masekela family.
The family said that details surrounding his memorial and burial services will follow shortly.
Main image credit: respectmusic.co.za