“Entertaining, professionally put together. Did justice to the spirit and essence of Bra Hugh jovial entertainment. Suzy is really highly recommended. She is maturing into a musician of note,” says Windhoek’s jazz lover, John Kamati, who and family could not miss the Suzy Eises Hugh Masekela Tribute show on Saturday at the Namibia National Theatre for nothing.
John words indeed encapsulated the mood that was at the show last Saturday. The show was a haven sent for the seemingly jazz-starved city dwellers, telling from the numbers that thronged the theatre, packing it near to a full house. Needless to say, many were not just out to listen to music but as much to rekindle Bra Hugh’s fond memories. Because most may never have had the opportunity to do so on his sad passing last year. But foremost to do so in the good and professional company Suzy. Surely the crew, from the instrumentalists to the singers, ensured that for the night Bra Hugh was reincarnated.
Bra Hugh was not only a South African musical and human rights icon but belonged to the whole of Southern Africa, having spent a good of his exiled lifetime in Gaborone, Botswana where in 1984 produced his album Techno Bush with all time favourites like Don’t Go Lose It Baby, Motlalepula, Getting Fat in Africa, Pula Ena Na, and African Secret Society.
Learning of the show, it was a no-miss for me like indeed I can magine for many who for years have been feeding on nourishing on his unique African brand of jazz. My mind flashed back to those days in exile in the United Kingdom when Brag Hugh had a performance in London - was it 1984 or 1985? At that performance revellers, mostly exiled from South Africa and Namibia, as well as the African Diaspora, and of course the rest of the international solidarity activists, all equally really had a bash but in essence a musical political one. Apartheid South Africa was still in her heydays, and Namibia had her own colonial case to battle, swinging back and forth on the international political pendulum.
For me there were many reasons the tribute show this Saturday seemed to rekindle many memories.
And it was not incidental, but befitting, that it took place on Heroes and Heroines Day weekend. Brag Hugh being remembered right in the centre of Windhoek in the absentia of his long-time friend and comrade, Theo-Ben Gurirab.
And of all places in the NTN, a theatre a throwback to Dollar Ibrahim. And the late Theo-Ben was there in person and spirit. Thus as much as the show was in tribute to Bra Hugh, it was also a tribute to late Theo-Ben, who too was a musical being and connoisseur of jazz.
For spellbound two hours or so, Suzy and fellows, Cape Town-based Dan Shout on sax, South African-based Vaughan Fransch on trumpet, and on lead vocals homeboy, Bongani took the audience through a playlist of Don’t Go Lose It Baby, Ziph’Nkomo, Chileshe, Stimela, Ashiko, Mbombela in the opening act, to contine after a 20-minute respite or so with Boy’s Doing It, (Harambe and Moving) Suzy’s own compositions , Khawuleza and finally one of Bra Hugh’s all time favourite hits, Thanayi. Like with man of the songs, once again Bongani distinguished himself vocally on Thanayi inducing the usually laid back, shy and subdued audience of a theatre, typically, into a raucous and rapturous dancing crowd. Surely the show did justice to Bra Hugh’s memories.
Not to mention Vaughan on trumpet and Bongani’s groveling voice being a reincarnation of Bra Hugh. Proceeds from the show will be donated to the Physically Active Youth Namibia programme.