In Memory of Hugh Masekela: our 5 favourite songs

Legendary jazz musician Hugh Masekela passed away on Tuesday morning after a long battle with prostate cancer. The musician had an impact on many South African’s lives, playing an important role in the anti-apartheid struggle and livening many events with the sounds of his music. In memory of Bra Hugh, The Daily Vox team rounds up five of our favourite songs from the icon.

Stimela (The Coal Train)

No list of Bra Hugh’s songs will be complete without Stimela. The evoked image of the coal train passing through the night that Hugh Masekela creates comes alive with the sound of the haunting instruments.


From the album, The Boy’s Doin’ It, Mama is a bittersweet song about a woman who is separated from her mother and forced into exile and how happy the woman is to return home when Nelson Mandela was freed. The words accompanied by Masekela’s saxophone is a marriage in perfection.


Featured Thandiswa Mazwai, Thanayi is a groovy song which would get anyone up on the feet, moving to the beat of the rhythm.

Bring Him Back Home

Written about the first democratic president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Hugh Masekela’s song became an anti-apartheid anthem for the movement in South Africa and around the world to free Nelson Mandela. It’s a powerful song with strong lyrics and a beautiful trumpet.

Gazing in the Grass

Composed by Philemon Hou and recorded by Hugh Masekela, Grazing in the Grass reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it’s not difficult to see why. The smooth trumpet of Masekela accompanied with a guitar, alto sax and piano makes for smooth listening.

Tributes have already begun pouring in for the musician from Black Coffee, Abantu Book Festival and many more.

Rest in peace, legend. Your contribution to South Africa’s musical and political history will never be forgotten.

Featured image via Wikicommons