Windhoek-Namibians yesterday paid homage to African jazz legend Hugh Ramopolo Masekela who passed away peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday after a protracted battle with prostate cancer.
Though his voice has been silenced, many Namibians believe Masekela’s timeless musical works will reverberate in the minds of the young and old for eternity. Even more, his persona will find permanence in the hearts of those he met and touched both with his music and deeds. One such individual is South African-based Namibian political activist Udo Froese who was not just a fan of the legendary hitmaker, but a personal friend too.
In an interview with New Era yesterday from his South African base, Froese maintained that in his ‘turbulent life’ as a journalist, he met many people most of whom became his friends. Amongst them were the late Masekela, Brenda ‘Mabrrr’ Fassie, Tina Turner, and the rather large Mandela family.
“We usually met at concerts, me interviewing them either before or after, taking them to funky restaurants and bars wherever they and I were at that time,” Froese maintained relating that this is how he met Masekela, some 25 years ago in Johannesburg.
“His liveliness, sharp wit and great humour impressed me. He had the ability to enthusiastically rake one into his thoughts, or dreams and projects,” Froese said, adding that he, Masekela and late Namibian tycoon Aaron Mushimba always met in Johannesburg over meals and drinks with lots of laughter.
He described the late Masekela as an engaging, larger than life personality both, on and off stage. According to Froese, the late Masekela’s passions were few but ‘large.’ Primarily, music was Masekela’s passion but off late he got caught up with the African history and cultural foundation that they were trying to establish.
The political analyst revealed that his departed buddy was impressed with Namibia where he met the late Mushimba. The latter is said to have taken him to his farm where they holidayed over discussions about African culture and history.
Dr Kagiso Moloi, a local jazz disc jockey and dentist, said: “I was asked to host him and his band when they travelled to Namibia for the Windhoek Jazz Festival in 2013 and we congregated at Xwama Restaurant. In our conversation, which hovered freely from music to culture, he made it very clear that he disliked weaves as they diminished our African identity.”
Moloi hailed the old-timer’s musical versatility as one element that kept him relevant to his death. New Era sports editor, a veteran musician and jazz enthusiast, Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa confirmed the late Masekela’s unwavering stance towards his African identity.
“His works were built on a solid foundation of folk music. He stuck to township jazz with a flugelhorn. In a way, he modernised folk music by throwing some jazz into it. He was also a good arranger of songs – one could already get the message through the melody before the vocals came in,” CK said.
Former Energy100 FM station manager, Martin Ukarerani remembers Masekela as a true gentleman.
“I had an opportunity to meet him; what a gentleman he was, a true Africanist, who always advised young people to live a clean life,” he told us.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-24 09:24:01 | 2 years ago