South African jazz legend Hugh Ramopolo Masekela has died. Hugh Masekela, widely known as the father of South African jazz was born on 4 April 1939 in the town of Witbank, South Africa.
Hugh died at age 78, on the 23rd January 2018 in Johanseburg. Masekela lost his long battle with prostate cancer, for which he had been treated since 2008.
His family issued a statement on Tuesday to confirm the news:
“After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, surrounded by his family,” read the statement.
The musician’s team released a statement in October saying he had been battling prostate cancer since 2008.
The jazz veteran underwent eye surgery in March 2016 after the cancer spread, and had to go into theatre again in September 2016 after another tumour was discovered.
Masekela became well known when he started his long journey of anti-apartheid activist, leading figure in the struggle against white-minority rule. His song “Soweto Blue” became synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement.
In 1960 Hugh went into a 30-year exile to escape the apartheid regime in South Africa. Following the release of Nelson Mandela, Masekela returned to his land of birth in 1990.
In 1964 aged 24, Hugh got married to singer and activist Miriam Makeba, also known as “Mama Africa.” Their young couple divorced just after two years (1966).
Hugh’s last biggest performs was at both the opening concert of the 2010 South Africa’s FIFA World Cup and the tournament’s opening ceremony in Soweto’s Soccer City.