Hugh Masekela is back

2016-10-02 06:00
Hugh Masekela. (Picture: Lungelo Mbulwana)

Hugh Masekela. (Picture: Lungelo Mbulwana)

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Jazz icon Hugh Masekela speaks to City Press about his new album ahead of the Rocking the Daisies festival this weekend.
Five years after releasing his last album, jazz icon Hugh Masekela is back with an album he describes as educational and honest.

Why the long silence? Masekela says he wasn’t ready.

In an exclusive interview with City Press this week, ahead of this month’s album release, Masekela said: “You have to do things when you have inspiration. Sometimes when you do things on demand, you end up with mediocrity. You have to want to do it and do it well.”

He explains the inspiration behind the album was an “international diaspora kind of feel”.

“So that people can see we’re all the same. I have a heritage foundation and through my foundation, I try to make Africans be aware of their own history.”

He says it is sad that, as Africans, we don’t know our history and that we’ve been distracted by Western television.

Of the album title, No Borders, Masekela says: “I don’t believe in borders because we didn’t create them. African borders were created in 1886, in Germany, but we don’t know that and we fight over those borders.

Bewitched with music

“Borders are artificial,” he explains. “We even have a map from 1590 in the album sleeve to show [what] Africa looked like in 1590.”

Masekela, who has been a musician for 73 years, says he was bewitched with music when he was a child.

Growing up, his biggest inspiration was jazz musician Elijah Nkwanyana. “To this day, I’m still trying to play like him,” he says.

No Borders features a number of talented contributors, including singer Kabomo, jazz guitarist Kunle Ayo, Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi and Congolese-born singer-songwriter Tresor Riziki. It also featured Masekela’s son Sal Masekela and his nephew Selema Masekela.

WATCH: Hugh Masekela on his new album 'No Borders'

Turning to South Africa and the #FeesMustFall movement, Masekela says many things must fall.

“We were promised as a nation so many things by the first president when he made his first speech and we haven’t seen it yet.

“I think promises must fall first.”

He adds: “At the top, people are not saying anything, instead they’re defensive and they want to be respected. How about respecting the people for a change?”

* No Borders will be available in two weeks’ time in all music stores

* The Rocking the Daisies festival takes place from October 6 to 9.


Read more on:    hugh masekela  |  music

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