26 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Ammara Mourns the African Icon

Before his death, Hugh Masekela was frequenting Zimbabwe and had collaborations with a couple of local artistes. He may have been bidding his farewell to the land of his ancestors.

One thing is emerging from the narrative of his life story: Masekela loved and touched many people all over the world. One of the artistes who had the prvilege to meet and work with the titan is Zimbabwe's foremost female chanteuse Ammara Brown, stepdaughter to the late musician Chiwoniso Maraire, currently riding high on the pan-African music scene with her debut hit album Ammartia, which features hit song Akiliz and a collaboration with Masekela -- Next Lifetime.

Apart from his self-confessed Zimbabwean roots and frequent visits to the country around 2014, Masekela met Dumisani Maraire (the father of the late Chiwoniso Maraire) in the 1970s and struck up a life-long friendship with him.

I asked Ammara about her reflections on the passing of Masekela: "I first shared a stage with Sekuru Masekela in Nyanga, 2015. I hadn't met him yet, but was informed before I walked on stage that Bra Hugh (Masekela) insisted he be escorted to a front seat, so that he could watch me. After my performance he came backstage and showered me with nothing, but adornment and respect for my delivery and said: 'I've never seen any woman work so hard! And I've seen them all! You're Zimbabwe's best kept secret. We've got to get you outta here!' The honour took my breath away. A week later he came to watch my performance in Harare, and soon asked if we could record together. The very next year we did, which is how he landed up on two songs on my debut album Ammartia, namely Tawina and Next Lifetime. The music will always live on. His unparalleled musicality and charisma on stage was incredible. But if I'm to be entirely honest, I will miss his personal presence. He had the ability to shed deep wisdom while making me laugh for hours at a time. His presence was his present, a gift of earthly glory. He was a good soul. Sekuru Masekela's transcendence is surely an already blessed journey," said the diva.

Masekela in his own words said:

On the future: "I don't want to live beyond where I am now . . . and I live it day-by-day. And, I think once you get too involved with your legacy and all that sh*t, you are swallowed by your own ego."

On his legacy: "I haven't done too badly in life so I have the luxury of choosing what I want do. I am more spread out. I am getting into television and cinema, but it is all heritages driven. I am completely heritage captured."

On politics: "I would like to see someone who's working for the country' because inauguration doesn't mean coronation."

What President Jacob Zuma said: "Masekela was one of the pioneers of jazz music in South Africa whose talent was recognised and honoured internationally over many years. He kept the torch of freedom (sic) alive globally fighting apartheid through his music and mobilising international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid."

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