Hugh Masekela Launches Commonwealth Week, UK
11 March 2012
The audience swayed between listening in awed silence to singing, dancing and clapping, as Mr Masekela – considered one of jazz’s greatest horn players – filled the hall with his warm and energetic playing.
Mr Masekela is a South African musician of legendary stature, having been at the heart of South African music for over half a century. His music illustrates the diverse ethnic culture that his country is home to. An outspoken advocate for civil rights on both sides of the Atlantic, he has spent his career pushing both social and musical boundaries and continues to speak out for his country’s people and their culture.
As part of a week of activites organised to mark Commonwealth Day and its theme for 2012, ‘Connecting Cultures’, the ‘Celebrating the Commonwealth’ concert offered a glimpse of the rich culture and creativity the modern Commonwealth has to offer.
The host for the evening, comedian and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli, said: “This evening epitomises everything the Commonwealth is about, bringing a diverse range of talents together.”
The audience was lifted to their feet by Mr Masekela’s singing that undulated between a soft and deep resonance. Each crescendo and beat change in the music was reflected in his facial expressions.
He played and danced alongside each band member, before singing to the cheering crowd and encouraging their participation.
“I’m taking you with us everywhere we are going,” he told the audience as they joined in.
“This could be your night to break out and let it rip. We know there’s people in here who’ve never screamed before so you’re about to change your whole life. Don’t bring down the ceiling,” he joked.
Joining him on stage were his band members: Cameron Ward on guitar; Randal Skippers on keyboards; Fana Zulu on bass; Francis Manneh Fuster on percussion; and Lee Roy Sauls on drums.
A child bounced to the rhythm produced on the fugelhorn as Mr Masekela filled the hall with its playful sound. Heads and bodies nodded and swayed to the beat.
“Surely you’ve had enough now?” he asked the audience.
“NO,” they responded.
The evening ended on old South African wedding songs with the entire crowd dancing, singing, clapping and waving together in unison.
Mr Masekela dedicated his performance to people looking for peace in their own countries and those affected by natural disasters.
“If it’s not too late, try to think about that [nature] and consider treating your environment a little better than you’ve been doing,” he added.
Preceding Mr Masekela was 28-year-old London vocalist Zara McFarlane, a rising star of the British jazz scene of Jamaican heritage.
With her band, Ms McFarlance danced as she sang vocals steeped in jazz with an undercurrent of rich, contemporary soul.
The audience was captivated by her voice, smoothly undulating between alto and soprano, and band members’ energetic solos.
Vijay Krishnarayan, Deputy Director, Commonwealth Foundation, said: “Tonight’s concert was a wonderful success. Hugh and Zara made from an impressive line up: two formidable artists engaging a packed house with rousing performances in celebration of the start of Commonwealth Week. We’re delighted to have had this opportunity to share a glimpse of the creative talent the Commonwealth has to offer and the power of culture as a force for social change.”
Hugh Masekela: 'I don't think I have the power to forgive'
4 March 2012
The Guardian/The Observer
Photograph by Sarah Lee
Can a non-verbal instrument like a trumpet be political?
No. I don't think any musician ever thinks about making a statement. I think everybody goes into music loving it. I just came from South Africa, a place that had been in a perpetual uprising since 1653, so the uprising had become a way of life in our culture and we grew up with rallies and strikes and marches and boycotts. Politics was no different to us from how it was to the Irish, except we were fighting real oppression instead of a racial or religious war.
It started in 1653, so I grew up with it and at the time I got international notice I was from South Africa, and my resource was South African music, so it would have been very awkward not to mention the circumstances in whatever I was doing, because I came from those people and I sourced from them. But then by the time it gets translated by editors, scribes, authors, people like yourself, it ends up with a trumpet making speeches in Trafalgar Square. But the trumpet is an inanimate object.
Can you describe what it was like to be a young black man growing up in apartheid South Africa?
By the time we grew up, millions of tricks against the establishment were there in place already. What people don't know about oppression is that the oppressor works much harder. You always grew up being told you were not smart enough or not fast enough, but we all lived from the time we were children to beat the system.
There was one occasion when the apartheid government tried to invite you back as an "honorary white". How did that feel?
It was not only insulting, but it was like the height of comedy, right out of the fucking Marx Brothers. The apartheid people were actors and they had to act out their part in their beliefs every day. That's why we always saw them as being comedic.
Have you forgiven white people in South Africa?
I don't think I have the power to forgive. I think the most difficult thing that has had to happen in South Africa for the previously disadvantaged communities is they had to reconcile that the oppressor has been enriched and the establishment is now making five or 10 times more profit than they were during the time the economic embargo was on them.
There's never in history been a people who have ever said to another people: "Hey, sorry we made so much fucking money off your backs. Here's 500 trillion to show you how sorry we are for enslaving you."
The inequalities are still there. We're not being harassed by police at night or being arrested for stupid things, but there are inequalities. And life is not an act, we're not in a movie.
Do you think the African National Congress has lived up to its promise after 18 years in government?
I don't think anybody has ever been able to live up to what they promised. I don't know a government that has ever been successful at that because once they get into power, things change and the world is controlled also by business now. I'm not expecting any miracles.
Corruption is everywhere, man. It's in England; all those MPs who stole money and lied about their houses. It's an international malady and there's no reason why South Africans wouldn't have done it .
Do you think there will be a traumatising effect for South Africa when Nelson Mandela dies?
Does he have a special magic hold on South Africa, so that everybody will die when he dies? He's a human being who became who he became because of the people of South Africa. I wish him good health and I hope that he's not going to be in too much pain.
You've said you squandered $50m over the years?
I'm the kind of person who goes on with life. I was one of the smallest benders of the era. But I've gone on with my life. This was more than 40 years ago, you know.
You don't dwell on the days of taking drugs such as marijuana and cocaine?
No, because I'm not as anal, I guess, as most of the media are. You have to remember I'm self-employed. So the mundane things that the press and people basically occupy themselves with, I've no time for. I live a creative life and I have a very happy family life.
Do you have any regrets?
I don't have anything to regret. I think people who have regrets are people who think they can relive their lives. You only see each day once.
Do you believe in God?
I don't criticise any people who believe. I don't believe in organised religion and don't have time for it because I'm in music all the time. What I do is very spiritual because I do it religiously, 24 hours a day. If there is a God, he should be worshipped as we worship him every day because when we're not on the road, we're in the studio.
Hugh Masekela Trumpets Wedding Songs
29 February 2012
Legendary South African trumpeter and singer Hugh Masekela has recorded 28 albums but, according to him, only in the most recent one, Jabulani, all the songs are happy ones.
The man who was once married to singer Miriam Makeba and now has a Ghanaian wife dedicates this CD to wedding songs from his native country.
But he told the BBC Africa's Leslie Goffe in the United States, where he has been promoting the album, that the happiness it exudes is not only a reflection of his personal joy but also of the way South Africa has been changing in the last two decades.
"From 1653 until 1994 South Africa was at war… If you have war, when are you gonna have time for love songs?" he said.
To hear the interview click here
Masekela Leads Crowd on Boisterous Romp
25 February 2012
by Aaron Nicodemus
Photograph by Betty Jenewin
WORCESTER — At one point during his performance at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts Thursday night, jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela taught the crowd of Americans how to ululate.
It’s this high-pitched trill that old women sing at weddings and funerals in South Africa, a “u-lu-lu-lu-lu” sound, belted out at the highest pitch you can imagine.
“Oh that was beautiful. Beautiful!” Masekela said in his distinctive deep, raspy voice, following a particularly earnest attempt by the audience. “Are you sure you’re not from Soweto?”
“Hugh Masekela: Jabulani Tour 2012,” a six-man band led by Masekela, has crisscrossed the country, performing a boisterous, joyous combination of jazz, pop and African melodies in Los Angeles and Chicago and last night, Worcester.
“Jabulani,” his 28th studio album, celebrates the wedding traditions of his homeland, weaving in all of the melodies and story lines that accompany two people getting married.
Masekela explained that before a marriage, the bride and groom’s families enter into a long negotiation about the “lobola,” or bride price. The lobola is paid by the husband’s family to the family of his soon-to-be wife, usually negotiated by the aunts and uncles on either side.
“If she’s highly educated and very beautiful, you’re going to pay through the nose,” he told the audience. Once the price is agreed, there is an impromptu parade through the village, where unmarried men and women from both families sing songs of mockery about the groom.
“What are you doing with this funky guy? Have you smelled his armpits lately?” might go the words of one song. “What are you doing with this fool who can’t dance?” might go another.
At 72, Hugh Masekela still dances like a young man, still lets loose with notes low and high, still pumps out his trademark sound from his flugelhorn as if he’s still an up-and-coming jazz musician chased from his homeland by an unjust government and sent packing around the world, honing his craft in London, in America. In 1968, Masekela would strike gold with the best-selling instrumental song, “Grazin’ in the Grass,” win a Grammy and become world-famous. He and the band played a snippet of the familiar tune last night.
Masekela is a force of nature on stage. Even when one of his bandmates was playing a solo, Masekela had the audience’s attention, rapping feverishly on a cowbell, grimacing, swaying, losing himself in the music. And just when it seemed he had completely lost himself in his bandmate’s performance, he pulled himself out of it, stepped back to the microphone, and played the music that is distinctly his own.
He dedicated last night’s performance to the meek.
“Let’s remember the people who are caught in the crossfire, who are looking for a peaceful environment that they don’t know, running from the very guns of the people they elected to office,” he said. “To all these people, we send a cry of sympathy.”
“Hey Woosta!” Masekela said after playing a few songs. “It’s dark in here, so nobody can see you. There are people here tonight who have never screamed in their lives, not even in bed. Let it rip tonight. Let it rip!”
Masekela let it rip Thursday night. For two hours, the audience tried — and failed — to keep up with him.
Musician Hugh Masekela Brings South Africa to Pick-Staiger
20 February 2012
North by Northwestern
By Thomas Carroll
As South African vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hugh Masekela danced in time to cue his band’s next song Saturday night, he addressed an audience of both students and senior citizens at a packed Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.
Masekela’s concert showcased a hard grooving mix of established South African musical elites and young rising stars performing both new material and the older songs that earned Masekela international fame in the 1960s and 70s. The show was part of an 11-city U.S. tour in support of his newest album Jabulani, which consists of reworked traditional wedding songs from Masekela’s hometown of Witbank, South Africa.
He explained to a hesitant audience that one of his songs was originally written to appease the gods and avoid their wrath, urging them to sing the words in order to save themselves from being struck down by lightning. Meanwhile, his hypertalented five piece rhythm section maintained a gentle pulsating vamp beneath the teasing.
Masekela continued: “And if you don’t care about your lives, think about the other people on the stage, please” as the band exploded into an energetic arrangement of the South African ritual led by the 73-year-old frontman’s percussive vocals and joyful flugelhorn playing.
Masekela’s music emanates energy and confidence. Even when he sings about issues like African poverty or Apartheid, he expresses a fervent sense of determination either through vocal ornamentation or lyrical flugelhorn improvisation. His incessant dancing and defiant fist pumps also convey this resilient attitude. Masekela’s dexterity as a vocalist and instrumentalist disguises his true age. On the horn he plays with an earthy tone and alternates intricate rapid-fire runs with fluid soulful legato lines while his voice ranges from pop-tune crooning to an aggressive half-growl that gives continuity to his funk/jazz/South African fusion arrangements.
The veteran performer continued to incorporate humor into his performance, chiding Evanstonians for being afraid to “let go” and break free from social conservatism. He poked fun at African wedding ceremonies, explaining how people of his village would sing songs like “Girl, you better learn to sweep because you can’t make love in the dirt” following a successful ceremonial engagement.
The members of the rhythm section demonstrated at least as much intensity and musicality as their bandleader. Many instrumental songs featured extensive solos from all musicians and the group lengthened Masekela’s standard repertoire with jazz-influenced improvisation.
Drummer Lee-Roy Sauls, 27, anchored the band with steady funk and African fusion grooves while renowned veteran percussionist Francis Manneh Fuster added layers of texture with a variety of shakers and bells in addition to polyrhythmic solos on timbales, congas and a talking drum. Keyboardist Randal Skippers and 25-year-old guitar protégé Cameron Ward mingled seamlessly to create Masekela’s harmonic backdrop when not offering their own laid back funk-and-blues-oriented solos. Electric bass innovator Abednigo Sibongiseni Zulu supported the band with a rich tone and captivating sense of time. His only bass solo at the end of the concert was a major highlight.
The band’s setlist seemed to accommodate everyone in the audience. They played smooth jazz and disco reminiscent songs for the old fans and the more upbeat traditional songs had the younger members of the audience on their feet by the end of the second set. Although the primary mood of the show was celebratory, Masekela reminded his audience that, although Apartheid is over, there are still many underprivileged people in the world. He dedicated his final song, a somber ballad that morphed into a tropical-tinged vamp over which all members could tear through their final solos, to those still fighting to find a safe place in the world.
South African Beats, Message Brought to Chico
15 February 2012
Photograph by Frank Rebelo
Chico Performances presented jazz trumpet player Hugh Masekela and his South African Afro-beat band as the performers paid their respects to music and the planet at Laxson Auditorium Saturday night.
The show was full of a vast range of emotional response from the audience members as they laughed, clapped, stood up and even sat in a sad silence as Masekela dug into their hearts to find empathy.
He stopped in the middle of his show to clarify the message in his music.
Mother Earth is queen of all and always will be, Masekela said. Society is doing a poor job of respecting her, and those suffering around the world need the help of the more fortunate.
Cooper Grosscup, a freshman philosophy major, agreed with Masekela's message, he said.
"His music seems to be about celebration but sometimes humility," Grosscup said. "We need to remember those who are suffering as we are not, and we need to respect Mother Earth. He had a clear message to alleviate the suffering in the world."
Kaeci Beshears, an usher working at the event, approximated that about 500 tickets to Saturday's performance were sold in advance, she said. Laxson Auditorium seats about 1,200 people, and Saturday's audience filled about two-thirds of the seating area.
The feverous sequences of melody in the music created by the five band members made the crowd move. The audience especially responded to the the tribal-sounding drumbeats combined with Masekela's thunderous, screaming trumpet solos.
The music just makes you happy, avid Masekela fan James Coles said.
"You hear the rhythm and the bass and you want to smile," he said.
Masekela's music sprawled across the spectrum of emotional appeal as some songs soothed and others inspired a feverous clap of crowd interaction.
"He's one of the artists that brought South African music to the mainstream so all of us could get to know it that way," Coles said. "It's been great to get to see him."
Live Jazz: Hugh Masekela at Royce Hall
11 February 2012
The International Review of Music
by Michael Katz
There are moments when all the ways we like to consider ourselves here in LA — multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, the whole big melting pot simmering under a golden sun – get reflected in something bigger and make us think, “Hey, maybe that really IS us.” Friday was such a night in Westwood when 73 year old Hugh Masekela brought his band of South African musicians to UCLA Live and left venerable Royce Hall smoldering, the diverse crowd dancing and singing in clusters around the main stage.
Masekela brings two formidable weapons to his performances. There is his voice, gruff and guttural at the lower edges, where he begins in a chant and moves up the scale, mellow in the middle ranges, still capable of reaching the higher octaves. Whether augmenting the lyrics with narration or simply falling into a soft elegy, Masekela has the audience hanging on every note.
Then there is his flugelhorn. It’s a perfect instrument for Masekela. His tones are warm and robust, no need for pyrotechnics; sometimes heraldic, adding a tinge of gravity to the music, other times teasing the melody, evoking playfulness, or just plunging into Afro-pop-funk, stirring the audience into staccato clapping and more.
Masekela’s backing quintet crossed over several generations, all of them schooled in the Cape Town music scene. The most remarkable was Cameron John Ward, a 22 year old guitarist. During the two and a half hour, two set performance, Ward showed off a stunning stylistic range, commencing with a simple but lovely intro to the opening “Where He Leads,” evoking a George Benson-like vocalizing over his solos in “Mama,” and giving the audience the rich, sweet guitar licks we’ve come to associate with the South African sound in “Halese.” Ward was equally at home in the funky Afro-pop tunes, running the emotional gamut on the second set’s opening numbers, “The Boy” and “Chileshe,” bringing the crowd to its feet as he and Masekela shimmied down to the floor.
Masekela put together two thoughtfully constructed sets, starting out the first with soft, soulful tunes and then bringing the tempo up. An additional scheduled percussionist was absent, putting a bit more responsibility on drummer Lee-Roy Sauls, with Masekela putting down his horn and helping out on tambourines and cowbell. His most stirring moments came at the ends of both sets. In “Stimela,” aka “Coal Train,” Masekela told the story of African workers taking the train from all parts of the continent to find work in the South African mines. His evocation of the locomotive, using his rasping chant, whistle and cowbell portended not just the journey but its destination. The song then reached a crescendo with flugelhorn and guitar, and some nice keyboard backing by Randall Skippers.
Skippers and bassist Fana Zulu were content to stay in the background for much of the performance, but that changed in the second set, particularly in the last three numbers. Masekela’s international hit “Grazing in the Grass,” first recorded by him in 1968 from the pen of Philemon Hou, loses nothing over time from its infectious opening line. Masekela introduced it with the warm mid-tones of the flugelhorn; the audience was bouncing along with him from the first few notes. Electric bassist Zulu stepped up and delivered his one extended solo of the night and it was vibrant, the tones rich and full, supporting Masekela’s horn beautifully. Masekela’s solo seemed to sneak up behind Zulu, then he slipped aside to make room for Skippers. Over the evening Skippers, who played from a variety of electric keyboards, had ranged from a vibes-like sound, to synthesizer, to pure piano simulation. Now he fell into a lovely riff, weaving his way around the main chords, reaching back, ballad-like, for a stunning finish that literally stopped the show. With the audience silent, it was left for Masekela to pick up his horn and finish it off with a brief coda.
Masekela concluded the scheduled set with another flight of music and narrative. He related the story of his grandparents running the equivalent of a South African speakeasy — the native Africans being forbidden to drink alcohol with predictable consequences. The call “Khauleza” was a warning that the constables were coming, and Masekela had the audience repeating it, first tentatively and then with appropriate alacrity, and finally as chorus to the tune.
By this time most of the crowd had been liberated from their seats for good, without benefit of giant videoscreens or smart phones or anything else but Masekela and his band. When “Khauleza” had ended with closing solos from everyone, Royce Hall was clamoring for more. The encore brought folks into the aisles, dancing to “Ashiko,” then coalescing around the stage for a raucous sendoff. All and all, it was surely one of the highlights of the musical season.
Hugh Masekela Joins Our Hungry No More campaign
24 January 2012
By Sipho Moyo
As our Hungry No More campaign continues, famed musician and trumpeter Hugh Masekela joins us in calling on African leaders to focus investments in their agricultural sectors, which will contribute to growing their economies and reducing extreme poverty.
Hugh’s support couldn’t come at a better time as the African Union Summit begins this week with our Heads of State in Addis Ababa. Now’s the perfect opportunity to continue our campaign and press our leaders to take action. We’ll be presenting your petition and signatures at the AU later this week!
Here’s what Hugh has to say:
“Growing up as a musician in South Africa I witnessed first hand the man-made obscenity that was apartheid and used music to protest against injustice. Apartheid is now consigned to the history books, but another obscenity still exists on our continent. A famine in Somalia that has killed 30,000 children in 3 months. Yet the current crisis is a man-made disaster that could have been avoided.”
As our leaders prepare to meet next week in Ethiopia to attend a critical summit, please join me in signing ONE’s petition:
The petition reads:
'Dear African Leaders,
We are haunted by the famine in Somalia that has killed 30,000 children in 3 months. We respectfully request that you help make this the last famine by: 1) supporting delivery of promised emergency aid; 2) increasing effort on peace and security; 3) keeping the long-term promise toward spending 10% of national budgets on agriculture and food security; and 4) doing so transparently, so citizens can ensure this money is well spent.
With access to suitable seeds, technologies, and improved connections to markets, small-holder farmers can generate more income, send their children to school, help to keep food prices affordable and help lift their communities out of poverty.
When they meet next week our governments must show real leadership and ensure this is the last famine in Africa.
Please take action now.
Thank you for your support,
Musician and ONE member'
Join Hugh and our partners in signing the petition today.
See more articles about Hugh Masekela
Hugh Masekela is Now Taking the Literary Route
15 December 2011
By Edward Tsumele
Photograph by Mabuti Kali
World-renowned South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who has just returned from a very successful tour of Europe, Ghana and Nigeria, is going literary.
Masekela, whose latest album Jabulani rates as one of his best, will publish a novel just in time for next Easter.
He told Sowetan yesterday it took him 13 years to complete the novel, titled Honky.
"This is going to be a Johannesburg thriller that readers will not be able to put down," Masekela said.
"Honky is about a successful black musician just back from exile. He likes performing around the country. Then one day, while returning from a performance, he gives a white woman a lift to her home in Killarney. The woman is found dead the next day. The person who was last seen with her is Honky, whose real name is Sir Holonko. For now that is all I am prepared to say about Honky," he said.
A few years ago he published a controversial biography , but Honky is his first work of fiction.
He said that there would be more novels from him in the future.
The trumpeter's musical repertoire is diverse and he is comfortable playing jazz, original compositions as well as African folk music.
He said his recent tour of Europe took him to the UK, Germany and Spain.
Having played music for over half a century, taking him from Sophiatown's cultural melting pot to England, the US, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea, Masekela is probably our foremost South African musical export. And he is increasingly in demand overseas.
Asked about whether he would consider slowing down, Masekela said: "Music is my life. I cannot retire from myself. This is my job. I have always been involved with music in one form or another. I have never worked for anyone in my life.
"Well, there are other things that I am involved in such as HIV education and I am also involved in heritage restoration.
"We South Africans are fast losing our culture and heritage as a people. One day, with the way young people are losing touch with where we come from, we should not be surprised when our children say: 'We used to be African. It is so tragic that it's not funny the way and manner in which our rich culture is being forgotten'," Masekela lamented.
See more articles about Hugh Masekela
Hugh Masekela: His Rock and Roll Redemption
15 November 2011
By Miles Keylock
“Pussy is the gateway to the earth. But we disrespect it… What guy hasn’t treated his lady badly by fucking around, huh?” Hugh Masekela’s eyes dart out into space, challenging, daring his audience to agree. Silence. Then a tentative show of hands from his entourage. “Huh-huh-huh!” His baritone chuckle cascades from deep in his diaphragm. The 72-year-old Bra is shooting the breeze, taking five between laying down some choice new jazz joints in his studio. This kind of call-and-response is typical of Masekela. “Jazz” isn’t some suave Wynton Marsalis head trip into classical museum music. It’s worshipping at the altar of pussy. It’s the gateway to heaven. It’s reanimating those old-time speakeasy swearwords: backdoor men and badass women baring “Body & Soul” in ecstatic ejaculation. All that jazz. It’s a celebration of living life to the fullest. It’s giving it horns, dipping your instrument directly into the gut, bypassing any objective intellectual cool and mainlining unspeakable, unsavoury states – love’s fires, rage’s boiling mud, shame’s hot cauldron – into something valuable, intrinsically beautiful, danceable. For Bra Hugh jazz is rock’n’roll.
One of the last survivors of South Africa’s Golden Age of Jazz, Masekela’s been typecast as a grandfather figure. To see him this way is to misunderstand his legacy. Forget “Grazing in the Grass”. Try carnivorous cocaine nights, compulsive copulation, countless hangovers, hangers-on, haters, lovers, years of exile, fear, self-loathing and yes, eventually, redemption.
His music carries the DNA of a life lived over the top and constantly on the edge. Over the past six decades he’s been there, done that. In New York in the 1960s he jived with Miles Davis, met Malcolm X and befriended Marvin Gaye. He jammed with reggae prophet Bob Marley in Jamaica, nightclub-crawled with guitar god Jimi Hendrix and freebased with hedonistic funk superstar Sly Stone in Los Angeles. He got bust. The FBI had him under surveillance. He didn’t give a shit. He told judges to get lost and press reporters where to get off. His career bummed out. He reinvented himself and invented “World Music”. He got bust again. He blew off the big time and the Big Apple. He holed up with Fela Kuti and rocked the high life with the Hedzoleh Sounds in Lagos. He gave boxing guru Don King shit about Ali and Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire. He gave himself even more shit by continuing to get hooked up in all kinds of crazy capers, including gold-and-grass smuggling in Liberia and staying on the shit for decades.
But what makes Bra Hugh a real rock star is that he’s survived. He’s defied rock’n’roll’s death-trip prescript: rocked against the odds; rolled with the existential shriek, the oppressive cacophony, the repressed yowl and the fear-turned-fury that threatened to kill him. He understands it. He’s lived it. But more importantly, he’s re-heard it as music: one harmonious, affirmative rupture.
“I’m lucky to be sitting here and talking to you about it,” says Masekela. “The saddest thing that happened to South Africa is that it was illegal for Africans to drink liquor in this country until 1961. So drinking became not only a form of resistance, but also a form of defiance.”
This is an excerpt of the cover story from the December 2011 issue of Rolling Stone South Africa. To read the rest of this story, subscribe to the magazine here.