Jazz musician and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela, 78, passed away in Johannesburg after a lengthy battle against prostate cancer. File picture: Jeff Christensen/AP

Johannesburg - The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) said on Wednesday that it was mourning the death of South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela whom it called a critical and militant voice for South Africa's young people.

"Bra Hugh", as Masekela was popularly known, represented a generation of cultural activists that used its artistic prowess and talent to rally young and old South Africans to overthrow the oppressive former apartheid government, spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said.

"His music was not only a powerful tool to heighten the levels of political consciousness amongst the oppressed black majority, but served as a instrument to mobilize the masses ... to agitate for an alternative South Africa," Mkhize said.

"Bra Hugh’s music played a significant role to enhance, consolidate and strengthen international solidarity against the regime."

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Masekela died at the age of 78 at his Johannesburg home on Tuesday after a protracted battle with prostate cancer.

Mkhize called on the current generation of musicians and others in the entertainment industry to be part of the broader struggle to overcome poverty, inequality and joblessness, especially among the poor and rural youth.

Masekela's family will on Wednesday hold a media briefing and release the details of his memorial and funeral services.

African News Agency/ANA