Bra Hugh Masekela has died at his home in Johannesburg

Date: Jan 24, 2018

Internationally acclaimed trumpeter "Bra" Hugh Masekela silenced

Bra Hugh Masekela has died at his home in Johannesburg, he was 78 years old. In October 2017, the family released a statement saying he had been battling prostate cancer since 2008. The statement explained that 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.

Read the full statement below:

"Dear Friends and Media

I have been in treatment for prostate cancer since 2008 when doctors discovered a small “speck” on my bladder. The treatment seemed to be successful, but in March 2016 I had to undergo surgery as the cancer had spread.

In April 2017, while in Morocco I fell and sprained my shoulder. I began to feel an imbalance when I was walking and my left eye was troubling me. Another tumour was discovered and subsequently, in September 2017, I had emergency treatment, and the tumour was neutralised.

It is a tough battle but I am greatly encouraged by the good wishes of family, friends and everyone who has supported my musical journey, which remains the greatest source of my inspiration.

I have cancelled my commitments for the immediate future as I will need all my energy to continue this fight against prostate cancer.
I’m in a good space, as I battle this stealthy disease, and I urge all men to have regular tests to check your own condition. Ask questions, demand answers and learn everything you can about this cancer, and tell others to do the same.

This will be the only public statement I make on the matter, and I ask for privacy going forward, so that I may rest and heal."


Internationally acclaimed trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, and lyricist Hugh Masekela is one of the most prolific musicians to come out of South Africa. Affectionately known as "Bra Hugh", he had a recording career spanning over five decades with over 40 albums. He was in a league of artists such as Caiphus Semenya, Jonas Gwangwa, and Abdullah Ibrahim to mention a few.

His was a distinct sound, a mélange of jazz, afro-beat, bebop and funk, and it was instantly recognisable. His music largely reflects the realities of his country of birth, South Africa. From the days of apartheid, to the often exploitative system of migrant labour and the transition into a new democracy, have all been thematically captured in the muso’s body of work. Bra Hugh was more than just a musician, he was also known for his political and cultural activism and regarded as one of the country's cultural ambassadors.

Some of his albums include “The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela” (1964), “Home is Where the Music is” (1972), “Stimela” (1994), “Time” (2002), “Still Grazing” (2004, “Live at the Market Theatre” (2007), and “Phola” (2009) to name a few.  His album, entitled “Sixty”, released in 2000 reached platinum status in South Africa with more than 50 000 copies sold.

The University of York awarded 16 honorary degrees to Nobel Laureates, authors, scientists, humanitarians,musicians and activist Hugh Masekela. He was among 16 people to receive honorary doctorates at the University’s graduation ceremonies over the past three days.


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