Tribute to Hugh Masekela
(April 1939 – January 2018)

You were born into a tower of darkness,
Built out of boulders of hatred and oppression,
Dripping with the blood of the slave trade.

But your lineage and the very blood that pumped through your veins
Knew nothing but defiance and a deep love for your people.

They thought nothing could survive in there
Until they heard the defiant lyrics and melodies
That threw an interrogative spotlight on their actions.
The fear that engulfed them from that moment fueled their hatred for you.

The explosion of anger that must have filled the baas’ office
When they heard that you had escaped back in 1960
They must have lied to themselves by thinking you would soon be forgotten.
They couldn’t have been more wrong.

You wielded your trumpet with such devastating force and conviction
That ignoring you was not an option for the apartheid government.
Together with Makeba, Gwangwa and others you marched to the front line
Where you could take aim at the ongoing injustice.

They convinced themselves that the lethal concoction of
Exile, isolation and nomadic existence would eventually kill you.
His heart remains here, but he will die out there, they must have thought.
If only they knew your resilience.

Yes, the wounds they inflicted on you
Drove you into the sinister arms of many addictions
Which would lead you down a destructive path,
But the lump in your throat only amplified your painful screams for justice.

As you lay still, Grazing In The Grass, we contemplate life without you.
Your Stimela has reached its final destination,
But your music will continue to play long after we have dried our tears.
Roabala ka kgotso Ntate Ramapolo Hugh Masekela.

NOTE: Earlier today (9 June 2018) I finished reading Still Grazing, The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela. This poem was written as a tribute to the legendary musician that is Bra Hugh Masekela, while Magic, from the album Time, played in the background.