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The African National Congress Youth League mourns the passing of Bra Hugh Masekela

24 January 2018

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), a critical and militant voice of the youth of South Africa mourns the death of Jazz legend Cde Hugh Ramapolo Masekela, famously known as Bra Hugh.

Brah Hugh represents a generation of cultural activist that used it artistic prowess and talent to rally our people, young and old, behind the struggle to overthrow the colonial, oppressive, and racist old Apartheid Pretoria regime.

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 around the political mission of the banned ANC and exiled leadership, to agitate for an alternative South Africa built on the ideals of the Freedom Charter as encapsulated in the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

As Bra Hugh, departs from the land of the living, to settle permanently in the land of the departed, we call on the current generation of musicians and all those in the entertainment industry given the social power and influence they posses to be part of the broader struggles to overcome poverty, inequality and joblessness, especially amongst the poor and rural youth.

As the youth of his political home - the ANC, we extend our deepest and profound condolences to his family, colleagues, friends and fans.

Bra Hugh should be best remembered as an activist, Freedom Fighter, Chief architect of our nascent democratic society and internationalist par excellence. His demise, given his stature and global standing befits the saying "when a great man dies, we say a Baobab has fallen".

Bra Hugh embodied the suffering endured by our people under Apartheid regime; a product of Apartheid forced removals at District Six, as a result of the heinous Segregation Act; displacement of Blacks to Townships, far away from economic hubs; excluded from quality life because of his racial pigmentation and class background; forced into exile, because he was regarded a foreigner in the land of his forefathers by our previous oppressors, and a Terrorist because of the just ideals he represented as an soldier for Freedom and Democracy.

Through his unflinching dedication and loyalty to the cause of humanity, he decided to blow the trumpet with a melody that did not only serve as great symbol of Black excellence, but as a platform to conscientize South Africans and the international community about the demons of apartheid in South Africa.

The world listened to his music to hear about our stories, and started to mobilize against the fascist National Party government. Like other revolutionaries, Bra Hugh was a threat to the old order and he was then forced to move into exile.

Unlike self-anointed champions of freedom, peace and democracy or counter-revolutionaries who falsely think that exile life was a place for milk and honey, Bra Hugh remained focused to the struggle and, composed and released songs that confronted the Apartheid regime. Bra Hugh`s music played a significant role to enhance, consolidate and strengthen international solidarity against the regime.

He did not only tell the story of South Africa, but he worked hard for a better Africa to be possible especially in nurturing talent of various young artists in the continent. Indeed Africa can rise today, because Bra Hugh lived.

We heard the trumpet blow, its melody served as hope during difficult times, we know now that, trumpet will continue to blow next to great revolutionaries such as:

Albert Luthuli, James Calata, Z.K. Matthews, Leslie Massina, Moses Kotane, J.B. Marks, Braam Fischer, Lilian Ngoyi, Duma Nokwe, Helen Joseph, Yusuf Dadoo, Frances Baard, Moses Mabbida, Oscar Mpetha, Sabata Dalindyebo, Alex la Guma, Mike Harmel, M.P. Naicker, Stephen Dlamini, Ruth First, Mark Shope, Robert Resha, Joe Slovo, Harry Gwala, Jack Hodgson, Jack Simons, Trevor Huddleston, Dorothy Nyembe, Oliver Tambo, Thomas Nkobi, Alfred Nzo, Nelson Mandela, Miriam Makeba and many others.

The melody of Stimela and many great hits will continue to serve as udondolo nomsimbithi to the current and future generations, because as young lions, we refuse to let Bra Hugh die, while we live!

The government of the people, led by the African National Congress, bestowed an Order of Ikhamanga in Gold, to bra Hugh, for his priceless contributions towards the emancipation of the African people. As young people, we can only honor Bra Hugh, by continuing with the baton from where he left off.

Hamba Kahle Bra Hugh! Senatla sa dinatla! Qhawe lama Qhawe!

Mlondi Mkhize
National Spokesperson African National Congress Youth League