By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South Africa’s famed Jazz musician and former anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela has died aged 78, after a battle with prostate cancer.
‘‘After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed away peacefully in Johannesburg, South Africa, surrounded by his family,” a statement issued by the family said on Tuesday.
Popularly known as “the father of South African Jazz” Masekela composed songs which fought white minority rule that segregated and oppressed black South Africans.
After increased apartheid brutality in South Africa, Masekela went into exile in 1960 and only returned home in 1990 after the release of late Nelson Mandela from prison. Mandela was the country’s first black president.
The musician will also be remembered for performing at the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off concert in Johannesburg.
President Jacob Zuma said Masekela’s death is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and the country at large.
“His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten,” Zuma said in a statement.
South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa tweeted: “A baobab tree has fallen; the nation has lost a one of a kind musician.”
He described him as one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz who lifted the soul of South Africans through his timeless music.