Musician Hugh Masekela. Pic: Safa

Johannesburg - Though the funeral of South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela will be closed to the public and the media, his family on Thursday announced a series of events to celebrate his life and times.

Masekela lost his long battle against prostate cancer on Tuesday. He was 78, and a worldwide celebrated composer, trumpeter, and activist.

Masekela's son, Selema "Sal" Masekela, thanked the public for showing support to his family during their time of grief, saying that they had been strengthened by tributes and messages of condolences coming in from around the world.

"We have been completely blown away by the manner in which people from all over the world have expressed themselves, the manner in which my father's music touched them and how he made a difference in their lives. Everyday that we turn on the TV, the radio or computer, we are blown away, and it has given my family an immense amount of strength. So we thank the people for sharing those stories and we hope they continue sharing them," Sal said. 

"The week ahead represents the time for all of us to say our final goodbyes to Bra Hugh, and as such we have events that are planned where the media and members of the public are invited to come out and to share their memories and bid farewell to my father."

First up will be a Hugh Masekela Heritage Park, a curated audio-visual celebration of Bra Hugh's life chronicling his six decades as an artist, socio-political and cultural activist which will be hosted at Zoo Lake's Park View Golf Club in Johannesburg from Friday to February 1.

A "going home celebration", more like a memorial service, will be held at Sankopano Community Centre in Alexandra Township on Friday 26 January where family, friends, and the artistic community will share their memories of Masekela. Alexandra Township is symbolic because that is where Masekela began his musical journey in the 1960s.

The final public tribute will be the Hugh Masekela Musical Memorial, a musical celebration of his life which will feature different artists with whom Masekela had collaborated. It will be held at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus, in Soweto on Sunday January 28.

His son said the Masekela family had decided that Bra Hugh's funeral would not be open to the public, in line with one his final wishes.

"The funeral service for the family, relatives and close friends, is going to be a private event."

African News Agency/ANA