Legendary South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela has cancelled all commitments for the immediate future as he battles prostate cancer and has asked the public for privacy in this difficult phase.
“It is a tough battle but I am greatly encouraged by the good wishes of family, friends, and everyone who has supported my musical journey, which remains the greatest source of my inspiration,” Masekela, 78, said in a statement.
“I have cancelled my commitments for the immediate future as I will need all my energy to continue this fight against prostate cancer.”
The celebrated South African trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornelist, composer, and singer was born in Witbank, Mpumalanga – South Africa’s eastern province bordering Swaziland and Mozambique.
In a career spanning several decades Masekela released over 40 albums. He is particularly well known for his jazz compositions which mesmerised South Africans as well as delivering revolutionary messages during the bloody fight against the apartheid system.
In the statement, the multi-award winning jazz legend narrated that his battle with prostrate cancer had been long.
“I have been in treatment for prostate cancer since 2008 when doctors discovered a small ‘speck’ on my bladder. The treatment seemed to be successful, but in March 2016 I had to undergo surgery as the cancer had spread,” he said.
“In April 2017, while in Morocco, I fell and sprained my shoulder. I began to feel an imbalance when I was walking and my left eye was troubling me. Another tumour was discovered and subsequently, in September 2017, I had emergency treatment and the tumour was neutralised.”
Addressing “friends and media” via the statement, Masekela, popularly known as Bra Hugh among his legion of fans, said he was positive about the situation.
“I’m in a good space as I battle this stealthy disease and I urge all men to have regular tests to check your own condition. Ask questions, demand answers, and learn everything you can about this cancer and tell others to do the same,” he said.
The fourth annual Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival takes place on November 4 at the Elkah Stadium in Rockville, Soweto in Johannesburg. Masekela himself was due to give a collaborative performance with Zimbabwe’s Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, but the show will continue with a line up including Tuku, Riky Rick, Papa Penny, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Bye Beneco, Johnny Cradle, Zoe Modiga, BCUC, and a traditional Basotho group.
Music lover, Tumisang Molepo said she wished Masekela all comfort as he battled the disease.
“His music was a soundtrack to our fight for freedom as South Africans. I remember well how we sang ‘Bring him back home’ from the album ‘Tomorrow’ in the 1980s as we fought a defiant battle to have [former president] Nelson Mandela freed by the apartheid regime. Bra Hugh is a fighter, and I have no doubt he will survive this,” she said.
Hugh Masekela is the father of American TV host, producer, singer, sport commentator, and actor Selema “Sal” Masekela.
– African News Agency (ANA)