The Musicians Union of Ghana wishes to pay tribute to the late Hugh Ramapolo Masekela who passed on Tuesday morning in South Africa. Indeed Hugh Masekela, a trumpeter, flugelhorn player, cornetist, composer and singer who stayed in Ghana for a period in the seventies was as much a Ghanaian as a South African and has been referred to as a South African-Ghanaian.
Indeed Hugh’s love for Ghanaian music is evident in the fact that for five years, he worked with the Hedzolleh Soundz a group he fell in love with after being introduced to them by Fela Kuti. One of his best known works is “Introducing Hedzolleh Soundz,” the definitive afro-jazz album released in 1973 with the Hedzolleh Soundz band.
That love for Ghana was not just from the days when he lived and worked here. After he left Ghana with Hedzolleh Soundz for the United States, he still kept touch with Ghana. On a number of occasions he played shows here in Ghana and even visited on numerous occasions include once when he came to watch Uncle Ebo Whyte’s play, “Women on Fire” and he was actually discussing more collaborations in the theatre space but ill health and time prevented the full manifestation of the idea. As a matter of fact, his love for Ghana is epitomized by his marriage to Elinam Coffie, a Ghanaian.
Hugh’s love for things Ghanaian continued when along with Pat Thomas they produced the sound track for Soil, a movie which featured both Ghanaian and other actors. In 2007, Masekela was honored with the African Music Legend award at the Ghana Music Awards. An evergreen player on the musical stage, Hugh was so much in touch with the current generation of musicians and his work on Becca’s song “I Love You” is a testimony of that fact.
Till his death, Bra Hugh as he was affectionately called was a Director of Kofi Amoakohene’s Scratch Studios and Universal Entertainment here in Ghana and also a patron of the Dream Child Foundation and the chief patron of the Afro Jazz Festival hosted by Paa Kwesi Hold-brook Smith.
On behalf of the President and leadership of the Musicians Union of Ghana, we say farewell Bra Hugh Masekela, damirifa due, nante yie, yaawo djogban…
Indeed Africa has lost a true musical icon.