A lot of people can tell much better stories about the impact that Rre Hugh Masekela has had on the world stage.
There are so many lessons we can learn from Bra Hugh, as he is affectionately know.
He left a rich legacy.
He was a master at storytelling.
His music was storytelling, in his song Stimela [the coaltrain] he recounts the hardship of black migrant workers in South Africa’s coal mines. Listening to the song, he paints a picture of journey, the fears and hopes of the workers as the board Stimela.
“Deep, deep, deep down in the belly of the earth
When they are digging and drilling that shiny mighty evasive stone,
Or when they dish that mish mesh mush food
into their iron plates with the iron shank.
Or when they sit in their stinking, funky, filthy,
Flea-ridden barracks and hostels.
They think about the loved ones they may never see again
Because they might have already been forcibly removed
From where they last left them
Or wantonly murdered in the dead of night
By roving, marauding gangs of no particular origin,
We are told.”
In the song Marketplace he paints his encounter with this beautiful woman at the marketplace.
I see her floating lazily
Through the market like a butterfly
I won’t forget the day the sun came shining in
Just like the dawn, in the rain that sprays all that sunshine on Congo
A flaming torch she lit up the marketplace so brightly
In his song Chileshe, he says:
Ungaba yeki baku bizi ikirimani
Loosely translates meaning: Hey Chileshe, don’t allow them to call you derogatory names, you are also a human being.
He tells more stories in his book Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela
One fascinating story he tells is the advice he received from the legendary Miles Davis.
Miles said to Hugh:
“You’re trying to play like me. You’re just going to be a statistic if you play jazz,”
Davis tells him.
“But if you put in some of the stuff you remember from Africa, you’ll be different from everybody.”
Basically, Miles was saying to Bra Hugh, those who make history are those who stand out and not fit in.
Don’t stand out for the sake of standing out, stand out because it is better.
In the process of standing out, tell stories, people remember stories more than facts and figures.
Tell stories that resonates.
Boy oh boy, Bra Hugh stood out and told stories.
The story of Stimela, Chileshe, Marketplace, Bring Back Nelson Mandela and other resonates with many people.
We will remember his legacy and stories for decades and centuries to come.
Bra Hugh has left the building, but let the music play.
No more pain.