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Jazz legend Hugh Masekela has passed away

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Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela

“No more pain!” Is the twitter message that let the world know that South African jazz legend Ramapolo Hugh Masekela is no more.

“After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, surrounded by his family”, read a statement issued on behalf of his family. Hugh Masekela was 78 years old.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, and had to undergo two surgeries in 2016 to fend off the metastatic cancer.

His career spans six decades, having grown up singing and playing the piano; it’s only at 14 that he began playing the trumpet, the instrument that gave him global acclaim.

Coming of age in Apartheid South Africa, Hugh Masekela was forced into exile in 1961, following the Sharpeville Massacre that had occurred the year prior. He was 21 at the time. He thrived in exile, founding musical schools in Botswana, studying and performing in London and New York, all the while rallying against the privations of Apartheid.

His exile ended in 1990.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, lamented the loss of this South African icon: “The nation mourns one of its most recognizable signature talents…His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten…May his soul rest in peace.”