Hugh Masekela. Picture: Supplied

While he takes time out to recuperate from a bout  with prostate cancer, Hugh Masekela, or Bra Hugh as he is fondly known, has cancelled a few appearances. 

However, the multi award-winning trumpeter’s signature fest, The Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival Presented by Assupol, will still take place at the Elkah Stadium in Soweto on November 4. 

Here, some of the acts who will take to the stage at the fest, shower Bra Hugh with love.

Oliver Mtukudzi - Legend

Describe your initial meeting with Bra Hugh.

It was a surprise to me when I realised that he knew me already when we first met. And the first thing he shouted when​ he saw me was "Zwakanaka." It was around 1982 or 1983 at Jobs Night Club in Harare – he jumped on stage and joined me with his trumpet. 

What have you learnt from Bra Hugh that you apply to your own career?
Hunhu/ubuntu. He never loses who he is. He is always original and won’t imitate anyone. 

We believe in giving people their flowers while they can still smell them, so what is the personal message you’d like to give Bra Hugh?
Thank you for being who you are. I love you. 


Zoe Modiga - Singer-songwriter

What is your fondest memory tied to a Hugh Masekela song?
Chileshe reminds of my late grandfather, who I was best friends with growing up. The song would start playing on the radio and complimentcomplement a random afternoon in Pietermaritzburg. 

A hot day with my grandfather reading a book and me drawing on things I shouldn’t be drawing on. Those very simple things are precious to me.
 
When he says "The boy’s doing it”, what exactly is the boy doing?
I feel as though Bra Hugh needs to  properly explain this song. My mind honestly goes to the gutters with this one because the groove is so sensual to me. 

It seems as though the backing vocals are encouraging Bra Hugh to do something, so my lucky guess is that he’s being encouraged to ask a girl out? In every part of the world apparently (laughs). But on second thought, I think he’s talking about “slaying” life everywhere you go.

I hear Bra Hugh personally selects the line-up for the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, so how does it feel to be selected? 
When I was still attending school at the National School of the Arts, he came to talk to us about music. 

I would’ve laughed if someone told me that a few years down the line, he would take a musical liking to me. I’m honoured, I’m grateful, I’m every good word in the dictionary and a few more good words that don’t exist yet. The truth is that, I think I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.
 
We believe in giving people their flowers while they can still smell them, so what is the personal message you’d like to give Bra Hugh?
Bra Hugh, you are my Michael Jackson. In fact, you are my Bra Hugh Masekela. The Bra Hugh Masekela. You are mind-boggling in the impact you have had in my life and the lives of so many people. 

I am lucky that you even know me by name, t. There are people thatwhose lives you have touched just as you have touched mine and, typically, when one is moved the way you have moved us, it becomes difficult to find words that do justice to the sentiment. I am lucky, flesh and bone, to have experienced a force like yours in this lifetime. Unkulunkulu akubusise nsuku zonke.

Zoe Modiga. Picture: AART VERRIPS

BCUC - Prolific live band

What is your fondest memory that is tied to a Hugh Masekela song?
When we are on a train as a band one of us ends up singing Stimela, always. 
 
I hear Bra Hugh personally selects the line-up for the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, so how does it feel to be selected?
It is almost impossible to wrap our minds inaround that fact; we are very honoured. Just to think that Bra Hugh knows about our band is a huge motivation. We mould ourselves from the template that they used when they grew up, so this is a very big deal for us. 
 
What have you learnt from him that you intend to apply to your own career?
We have been a band for 14 years already and in those 14 years we have heard Bra Hugh’s music being played by a certain type of people. He is not powered by radio, tv TV or print media, he is a live artist. For a band like ours it gives us a point of reference and hope that it is possible. We will grow old together.
 
We believe in giving people their flowers while they can still smell them, so what is the personal message you’d like to give Bra Hugh?
May he get well soon and we hope to play with him at the same stage in South Africa or abroad kuyafana. Lulama Bra Hugh sisakudinga.

BCUC. Picture: Facebook

Johnny Cradle - Kwairoots trib

What is your fondest memory that is tied to a Hugh Masekela song?
It has to be Thanayi. Considering Hugh Masekela’s long-standing legendary status, it has to be crazy that he had this song blazing in shebeen jukeboxes in Mdantsane during the great Kwaito rush. You could be at home asleep on a Friday night and you’d hear “Thanaaayi Thanaaayi Thanaaayi bo! Thanaaaaayi booooo!” on constant rotation. Legendary things.

When he says “The boy’s doing it”, what exactly is the boy doing? 
The boys are doing their job, delivering music about things that matter. Learning to love freely. The day-to-day balance of personal life and obligations, the tension between aspiration and what stands in the way. 

Hugh Masekela is the epitome of longevity in the music industry. What have you learnt from him that you apply to your own career?
It is the quality of meaningful voices that last and Hugh Masekela is a living example of that. 

Miles Davis makes mention of how Hugh Masekela became a great when he started focusing on his African shit. When he plays his stuff. And if he has lasted this long throughout the fads of the day then bands like us will be alright, as long as we focus on our shit.

Johnny Cradle. Picture: Facebook

Bongeziwe Mabandla - Folk singer

What is your fondest memory that is tied to a Hugh Masekela song?
It’s the song Stimela and the how capturing the story of the different mine workers that come to Joburg to dig underground was. It’s become my favourite song from him. 

Describe what meeting Bra Hugh was like.
I have. I was at Rosebank Mall. By luck I had a copy of my own album and I ran to him and introduced myself and told him I wanted to give him a gift. He was actually very warm and very cool, like always. 

I hear Bra Hugh personally selects the line-up for the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, so how does it feel to be selected? 
I’m humbled by this; it’s great to chosen andbe selected. I’m mainly honoured by the artist I have been asked to perform alongside. I’m a huge Zoe Madiga fan. I can’t wait for her set. Also looking forward to BCUC, Johnny Cradle, Penny Penny and my favourite of all, Oliver Mtukudzi.

Bongeziwe Mabandla. Picture Supplied


Bye Beneco, Eclectic dream pop band

What is your fondest memory that is tied to a Hugh Masekela song?
As there are four of us, we all have different memories of experiencing Bra Hugh’s music for the first time but my (Lenny-Dee) fondest memory was my first year of high school when I joined the school jazz band. 

My teacher said if we didn’t know who Bra Hugh was, that we should join a rock band. So that was the beginning.
 
I hear Bra Hugh personally selects the line-up for the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, so how does it feel to be selected?
We’re so honoured to be a part of this wonderfully curated line-up, especially to play alongside so many legends.

Hugh Masekela is the epitome of longevity in the music industry. What have you learnt from him that  you intend to apply to your own career?
We love that Bra Hugh has always been proud of where he comes from and that 
he shows Africa off to the world. 

Regardless of where Bra Hugh has been in the world when he writes his songs, they always draw us back to the fabric of our country, reminding us of the beauty and positivity that is easily forgotten. 
His prolific career is inspiring to us all, and one could only hope for a career half as long and abundant.

Bye Beneco. Picture: Supplied

Riky Rick - Chief cotton eater

What is your fondest memory that is tied to a Hugh Masekela song?
When I was growing up, my uncle used to have braais and we would go upstairs and take my uncle’s CDs and play with them. He had a big love for jazz and there would always be Hugh Masekela CDs and that’s what we started sampling when making music.

Have you met Bra Hugh? Can you describe what that initial meeting was like?
A year or two ago, we did a shoot for Woolworths where we were photographed with our families. He just pulled a R200 note out of his top pocket and gave it to my son. My son has never forgotten that. He often asks “Where is grandpa?” That’s something I’ll always remember.

Riky Rick. Picture: Supplied

Hugh Masekela is the epitome of longevity  in the music industry. What have you learnt  from him that you intend to apply to your own career?
I think we need to stop giving a fuc**k. I think we care way too much about what people say or how they react to us. Your feelings get hurt sometimes when you’re in the public eye. 

But I feel like as musicians, we get in trouble so quick that it stops us from saying what we really want to say. But if you look at Bra Hugh, he says what he wants to say all the time and people love him for it.

We believe in giving people their flowers while they can still smell them, so what is the personal message you’d like to give Bra Hugh?
We love you. You motivate us to be better people and thank you for everything you sacrificed so we can 
have a better road ahead. We will keep making you proud on these stages.

uHelenH

IOL