ENTERTAINMENT
23/01/2018 09:56 SAST | Updated 23/01/2018 10:39 SAST

Veteran Musician Hugh Masekela Has Died At Age 78

The Masekela family and President Jacob Zuma have released statements paying tribute to "the father of South African jazz".

Lee Celano / Reuters
South African musician Hugh Masekela.

Legendary jazz musician Hugh Masekela has died.

A family member confirmed to HuffPost SA that the 78-year-old succumbed to cancer on Tuesday.

In a career spanning more than five decades, Masekela gained international recognition with his distinctive Afro-Jazz sound and hits such as "Soweto Blues", which served as one of the sound-tracks to the anti-apartheid movement, reports Reuters.

He opened the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup Kick-Off Concert and performed at the event's opening ceremony in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

South Africa's Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa described Masekela as "one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz":

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His family has since released the following statement:

It is with profound sorrow that the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing. After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, surrounded by his family.

A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with profound loss. Hugh's global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre, and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memory of millions across 6 continents and we are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of 6 decades. Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts.

We will, in due course, release details of memorial and burial services. Hugh Masekela was someone who always engaged robustly with the press on musical and social-political issues. We laud the press for respecting his privacy through his convalescence, and during this, our time of grief. Our gratitude to all and sundry for your condolences and support.

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PRESIDENT ZUMA SENDS HIS CONDOLENCES ON PASSING OF MR HUGH MASEKELA

President Jacob Zuma has expressed heartfelt condolences on the sad passing of internationally acclaimed jazz artist, legendary trumpeter, cultural activist and liberation struggle veteran Mr Hugh Masekela, who has passed on at the age of 78.

Mr 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 alive globally fighting apartheid through his music and mobilising international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid.

President Zuma bestowed the National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold in 2010 to Mr Masekela for his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

"The nation mourns one its most recognizable signature talent in the person of Bra Hugh Masekela. It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten. We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and peers in the arts and culture fraternity at large. May his soul rest in peace," said President Zuma.