More than a bro, Hugh you were, much much more!

He will forever be remembered as a great music writer, vocalist, trumpet player, Afro Jazz pioneer and amongst all the titles that will ever stick, he remains our big brother.

Hugh Masekela playing the flugelhorn at the Manhattan Center, New York, 1994. Photograph: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images/Getty Images

When the news of Bro Hugh Masekela‘s death came to me through a high school friend, I remembered so vividly, the very first time I ever heard his music. Through a collection a cousin brother of mine possessed that was the most safe guarded part of his house. To play one of his albums was a not as easy, it desired a certain kind of patience and persuasion that even at times could not guarantee you success.

And like a close relative, the news came to me as if I had a major part to play in the arrangement of his funeral because my old time friend knew that we had a relationship through music, with Hugh Masekela, just like the many fans in the world that adored him as a brother.

Bro Hugh’s influence in the Jazz scene is one that was been cultivated from an early age and as he grew, the rewards were the best ever imagined by him or his worldwide fans.

The jazz hit maker could have just picked up a trumpet as a ticket out of the segregation during his time as a young man but instead he made the flugelhorn synonymous with him and jazz music as if it was his own sound.

To have been born in a world where he played a part in spreading the gospel of Afro Jazz and remain at the pinnacle, becoming an example of the world fusion mode is something that we must applaud and never to take for granted. His involvement in the music industry together with other greats such Miriam Makeba could easily be the reason why I have so much love for all kinds of music, jazz included.

He made the fusion of jazz compositions and great story telling an easier way to consume jazz, which at one time could have easily been regarded as boring music.

With an almost four generation gap between me and him, Bro Hugh’s music bridged the current times and of the time when he grew up. He remained relevant and a perfect example of what a musician should be today, a reflection of society and a voice to those without. A trait barely seen from an artist within a genre that is largely under rated and not popularised.

Jazz still remains in the periphery of other genres despite being amongst the oldest and Hugh Masekela’s influence on Jazz was as Michael Jackson was to Pop and Luciano Pavarotti was to Opera. He will be a name largely attached to a conversation about jazz just you would about Rock n Roll and Led Zeppelin.

Masekela and Fela Kuti
Hugh Masekela, and Nigerian singer Femi Kuti performing at the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Photograph: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

I can sit and write to eternity about his hits and how he was such an important part of jazz. From sharing the stage with Louis Reitenor, Abdullah Ibrahim, Fela Kuti, Oliver Mtukudzi and being an anti-apartheid, political activist but that all will be rhetoric as thousands of true and kind words have been printed and posted online since his passing away on Tuesday the 23th after a battle with cancer but that is not my part as his young brother.

Instead to me he represents what I wanted him to be, all he was and nothing less.

‘Everything must change, nothing lasts forever’ are lyrics he sang in his song Change in in his 2002 album called Time. He could have not represented my thoughts better than what he did on this song. He told the people what they wanted to hear and very scared to speak about. He sang about the ills Africa faced, mostly from her leadership which refused to give up power and offer others a chance. He became the ultimate leader, one who was not scared of his position in society to address the ills the continent was knee deep in.

As time would have it, a year after Robert Mugabe was ousted out of power, Hugh left us as if to say, my work here is done. Indeed ‘Nothing lasts forever’!

As we pay homage to a musician who defied social standings to become a household name that will forever be imprinted in our hearts and musical psyche.

I will always wonder why his musically inclined relationship with mama Miriam Makeba broke apart and why his was not a cancer that we could detect earlier and get rid off but then again, if he lived through his music as I would like to believe, he knew the time would come where he would have to leave his huge family and play his music amongst the heavenly bodies.

Masekela’s musical journey is one that many would have loved to live but I fear, in the hands of anyone else other than him, it would have been easily lost. There is too much distractions for a musician in the world and it seems Bro Hugh cut through them all like a hot knife on butter. He chose to remain focused on producing a sound distinctively synonymous to him and no one else.

He took to heart and strength what Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong advised him to do and that is, develop your own African style and in 1963 released his debut album, Trumpet Africaine.

Today, almost seven decades later, he stood by this style and fused it with the various experiences he had in life within a career that saw him perform in many countries and amongst great musical icons the world has ever seen or heard.

Masekela album’s span more than 40 and his last one , No Borders, in 2016 brought him  many awards and probably one of his biggest in his career, the gold category within the Order of Ikhamanga, The highest ever award that can be given to a South African in recognition to works of art.

He will forever be remembered as a great music writer, vocalist, trumpet player, Afro Jazz pioneer and amongst all the titles that will ever stick, he remains our big brother.

Hugh Ramapolo Masekela musician and activist, born 4 April 1939 and died 23 January 2018.

Hugh Masekela 2
Hugh Masekela in New York in the mid-1960s. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images


17 year old school leaver crowned S.A Idols season 13 winner.

A new S.A Idols winner has been crowned, she is only 17 and becomes an instant millionaire.

Paxton Fielies, 17, the youngest ever contestant and finalist has been crowned Idols season 13 winner at a colorful show held at Carnival City on Sunday afternoon. She becomes an instant millionaire and a receiver of a number of goodies and a recording deal that could potentially be the catapult to a vibrant career, or not.

Receiving more than 13 million votes, between the two of them, she took away the prize and became an instant media sensation. The young lady from Capetown stole the hearts of the show fans with her beauty, innocence, humility and vocal ability

The finalists showed up ready to lay it all down but everyone could hear the super vocal ability Paxton has been adorned with despite Mthokozisi being announced as being a nose better in the race to bag the highest paying musical competition in the land.

Mthokozisi could have lost it all by shoddily conceding to R.Kelly’s hit song ‘the storm is over’ whilst Paxton ushered out great vocals on her choice of opening performance.

If performances on these songs where in anyway the final decider to the show, the Zulu boy could have lost it.

In the end, the show is decided purely on the number of willing voters the finalists would have amassed in the run up to this one afternoon and nothing to do with how they performed on the final show.

Voting for the show almost reached a 100 million as the nation decided on who they next idol will be.

The duo between the two finalists was probably the highlight of the show and Paxton was pushing a very high range and seemed more comfortable than I have ever seen.

I do admit I have cringed a couple of times in this season having to endure crooked notes and poor performances but this afternoon it was much better and more a great show from these remaining artists with Paxton continuing her great run and maturity which could be a good amount of traits to have moving forward.

The school drop out winner, Paxton will soon be driving in a new car to school attending grade 11 with a number plate written ‘banana’; be sure to congratulate her when you spot it (if the claims on the show are anything to go by).

Winky D feat Beenie Man, fire can’t cool!

Just received this new track from Winky D and Beenie Man and I have two words for it Fan- tastic!

I doesn’t take me a minute to realise a hit when I hear one. As a matter of fact I think, every artist should run their music by me, I have a good ear.

Though I felt he should have sang (or chanted) more, as much as Beenie did, I still think its a really great offering from the dancehall artist.

Here is the track, enjoy!

Killer Tee management takes fans for granted!

A small pub in Randburg played host to probably the best dancehall artist in Zimbabwe at the moment, Killer T on Saturday the 4th of November.

Despite my best intentions not to get frustrated in any way over what seems to be a perennial culture for Zimbabwean music promotion, that of poor planning and live shows, I couldn’t help but just.

The show, supposed to start at six in the evening (a suspicious time from the onset) started at one in the morning the following day. The worst ever wait I have ever had to endure for an artist, especially after having spent my hard earned R100 to gain entry and travelled across two Gauteng regions.

The club, Alicats, was definitely the wrong place to host the dancehall artist having only a few square meters allocated to the show and the rest to a different DJ and a VIP enclosure. By the time he eventually got on stage, seven hours later, he struggled to move freely with a stampede ensuing at the only entrance and exit to the club.

Killer T performing at Ali Cats in Randburg (Pic by Joseph Maramba)

I guess there is no denying that the more artists from Zimbabwe fail to put on a good show outside their boarders, they only tarnish the effort to further put our music and artistry on the map.

Killer Tee is getting good air play on regional stations and should have known better than to keep the crowds waiting for more than seven hours.

I caught wind of a rumour that ensued during the long wait that as we waited, that Killer Tee was playing at another venue in the same town. Efforts to get any sort of answers as to the long wait were nonexistent, staff from the club kept promising he was going to show up soon.

Many a times, fans outside Zimbabwe have been shortchanged by cash mongers who have no respect in honouring professionalism. Artists have been advertised and not showed up which has left a lot of fans wondering whether to attend some shows advertised within the city.

Unless a show is advertised by professionally run organisations such as Computicket, which has the ability to advertise, organize and set up the shows according to demand and even refund if anything fails, Zimbabweans living in South Africa simply leave it to chance when it comes to any other advertised show.

Yesterday was less disappointing compared to other flaws, given the fact that Killer T eventually showed up.

My only fear is ruining the next time they decide to invite him again, fans will most probably choose to arrive at midnight or later or never. Negatively playing on his brand and professional levels.

If there were any hidden plans to push bar sales for seven hours before he came on stage, it worked but not for the second time running. Chances are the next time he is at the same club, less fans will travel to see him unless his management explains to the many fans that were packed like sardines and had to wait for hours on end just to see him perform.




Zivanai Masango: The Interview.

Zimbabweans are a people scattered all over the globe. It’s not news that we have had the worst never changing government since her birth. Amongst the best ways we have had to emancipate ourselves from our sad political and economic situation is to work extra hard; feeding off the scraps falling from the tables of the greedy and made to search for meaning and existence to where the grass looks “greener”.

Amongst the many that have taken the long rides in pursuit of happiness very few musicians have done so in with music in mind, but rather to etch any other form of existence, having had it tough in the music scene back home.

To leave the country in the hope of wowing the greener prospects with a taste of Zimbabwean music is a detrimental to one’s career (if not health) as it is a country not really known for its musical prowess.

With many artists and genres to choose from, the world isn’t very open to the sound of the Zimbabwean artist.

But as they say, the mind is the strongest tool we can ever wield and overcoming any negative thought whilst simply applying yourself to what you love best, can get you very far.

Zivanai Masango is a Zimbabwean born guitarist, songwriter and singer pushing the boundaries and sticking it to where it hurts, to that bent over mentality of ‘kusina amai hakuendwe’ and enforcing the ‘where there is a will there is a way’ attitude!

Zivanai Masango. Pic (Instagram)

After relocating to the United States of America, Zivanai did not yield on his ambitions and love for playing the guitar. Back home he had played for various artists but since moving to the U.S he explored different sounds. He plays what he calls Afropop/Afrojazz fusion music, a concoction of his roots, jazz influences from Africa and hints of the Blues and R’n’B.

“We do Afropop/Afrojazz fusion music… firmly rooted in the traditions, sounds and rhythms of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa but also reflecting the various international influences I’ve picked up in my long journey as a professional musician… as well as a fan of music in general. International influences include jazz, blues, r’n’b etc” Zivanai said.

When he performs, he does mostly original material from his last 3 albums and some yet to be released material and has found acceptance and a following through his versatility in play and the constructive use of social media. He never misses an opportunity to share what and who he’s working on and his awkward meetings with the world’s biggest names in jazz music, Lee Ritenour and his love for the Ibanez guitar brand.

Zivi and American Jazz artist Lee Ritenour (Instagram)

Being in America, he has had to be creative. It indeed is a big nation. However, wetting the appetites of traditional mbira/folk music (which has done more to put Zimbabwe on the map as a truly original sound from the land locked country than any other genre) can indeed take you a long way.

With notable pioneers of the traditional mbira such as Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, Dumisani Maraire, daughter Chiwoniso Maraire and Ephat Mujuru, having the paved the way amongst during their time, Masango simply picks up some of this music which is in the public domain to play to his musical advantage. He has been able to put a twist of his own and has seen him become a somewhat force to reckon with.

Becoming a social interpreter or protestor (in whichever way you decide to look at it), Zivanai Masango has managed to reflect the musical journey he has had and the different societies he has been blessed to being a part of.

His song “Varimugomo” which he wrote ‘after an American friend lamented on how they send congressmen to Capital Hill but once they get there, forget to represent the interests of the ones who voted them there’.  cannot resonate enough what we face in his Zimbabwe.

“I didn’t mean to protest per se… but I had genuine questions for those on the hill (leaders)… to ask where that zeal to better the people which they had in the beginning went to… to ask how they have totally lost their collective conscience… to ask why they are not ashamed to pillage the country and turn it into rags… to ask why they don’t have mercy. I had genuine observations of how the ones at the bottom of the chain are always crying while they (politicians) are sitting pretty with their families. If that makes it protest music, then so be it.” He said.

His is a sound that can perform well as they has always been a great demand for folk and traditional sounding music in the world, regardless of how the wave of new music coming up has in a way shoved us from that route into a somewhat downward spiral. Zimbabwe has simply lost its music identity (if we had one) and because we yearn to appeal to trends are digressing and losing the grab we once had on the world.

Which makes him even reluctant to release some of his music sighting the industry as volatile and unsure.

“I have a collection of songs in the works… but I’m not sure whether to release them as an album or just trickle them out as singles. The nature of the music industry these days makes that a difficult question,”

He however might be convinced to do an album, probably in 2018 depending on how well his fans demand for it.

Zivanai is determined to keep learning and improving, as he has figured out, it is the only way to bring up a brand. I sensed a longing for being equally revered in his home country like the one he gets in the US.

Zimbabwean music fans tend to have a cult following to everything. A definition of greatness is usually how the crowds says it is and rarely how it sounds. When they catch the flame, they do so alarmingly, blinkered and never to be moved. It is the same reason why it is so easy to climb the musical ladder in the country, lose footing and come hitting the ground with a big thud! All within a short space of time. Very few artists have survived these spikes in popularity and lived to tell the tale. Many have simply been forced to give up on their dream.

This is what Zivanai is afraid of and indeed a daunting proposition.

It could also be the fact that he didn’t play much as his own as an artist back in Zimbabwe. His solo career blossomed in the states and cannot be drawn into comparing where he has made most impact in his musical career.

Despite his lack of a solo career in Zimbabwe, he admits how easy it is to play for non-Zimbabwean audiences in America. Sighting Zimbabwean audiences as being skeptical.

“There is a certain cynicism and skepticism from home fans, they don’t readily accept you. Whereas non-Zimbabwean audiences are quicker to embrace you and accept you.”

I guess it could be because a new sound like anything unfamiliar requires the taste to be acquired.

Be that as it may, his work is progressive and has worked with great Zimbabwean musicians touring the US, such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Mechanic Manyeruke and self- exiled Chimurenga musician, Thomas Mapfumo. He admits having learnt a lot from such big names in Zimbabwean music and will have to work harder to command as much respect as these artists get as travelling musicians.

Zivanai and tuku
Masango performing with Tuku (

Zivanai is a drop in the ocean of the Zimbabweans that are scattered all over the world who are doing well but barely noticed back at home. It could also be that Zimbabwe is too busy with a lot (of nothing) to see what they’ve got or like he neatly said,

“A prophet is accepted away from home more than at home,”


Jah Prayzah drops new album, Kutongwa Kwaro

This could be his greatest offering so far, if regional music is concerned, as he ventures to establish himself as an equal to one of the region’s biggest names in showbiz, Davido who will perform alongside him at HICC today.

At a time when all things in Zimbabwe are blurred and politics in sharp focus, Jah Prayzah drops his new album Kutongwa Kwaro this evening amidst a goulash of expactations.

The album name, loosely translated means “Leadership” but in a somewhat discourteous manner to the character (himself or someone else) the regional star refers to in this latest offering.

Could this be his way of signalling the current chaos the country finds itself in, politically, as a cabinet re-shuffle has just ruffled feathers in this old cock that has led the country for the past 37 years?

Could Jah Prayzah, like his stage name, be prophetically singing of the times we find ourselves in, from Elohim with a message for us all to pay attention to our current leadership and demise while possibly learning of a way out through his message?

Could Zimbabwe’s 37-year nightmare – the sacked or lamented leadership, the disastrous political fighting and tortuous economy – finally be over and revealed in song and dance as his title assumes? Or could we be clinging onto nothing but clever wording and marketing by the rising regional musical star?

His album that has already broken self-set records by the artiste as the most marketed, comes at a time when every aspect of Zimbabwean life is in the pits and probably, just probably, could resuscitate a lethargic economy that is on the brink of self exploding.

It could be his greatest offering so far, if regional music is concerned, as he ventures to establish himself as an equal to one of the region’s biggest names in showbiz, Davido (Nigeria) who will perform alongside him at the Harare International Conference Centre later today.


Davido, who has recently been questioned on the mysterious murders of his colleagues in which he has been called into questioning by police in Nigeria, will be relieved to avoid the negative publicity he faces in his country at the moment with the trip down to the once ‘bread basket of Africa’.

Jah Prayzah will also yen for some good publicity through the same show as his track “Mdhara Vachauya” in particular, has been “linked” and “likened” to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrival to the helm of the sinking Titanic (Zimbabwe) and restore all that has been lost but who has just lost his post as Minister of Justice through the recent re-shuffling in the hands of the nonagenarian leader.

The Uzumba-bred star will shoot to aim at a far larger market than locally as it seems he has tasted regional success with collaborations with Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania) and Mafikizolo (South Africa) which have been received fairly well but has been left vulnerable back at home with fans who feel JP has moved away from his original sound while the upcoming mimic, Andy Muridzo, has been left to capitalise and feel the void. 

jah prayzah 

His fans will have to accept the crooners change in tune to accomodate a much wider and more lucrative Africa, a conundrum he faces as he tries to satisfy both old and new fans alike.

His seven albums, though loosely characterised, are not an easy walk in the park especially with a Zimbabwean crowd that is not loyal in any way. If there is anything that Jah Prayzah has given the large followers he commands, is the guaranteed joy of music, a feat that was solely manned by Oliver Mtukudzi who at 65 years, never fails to deliver.

Jah-Prayzah and tuj

If we are to judge a book by its cover, Kutongwa Kwaro, might just be a best seller but then again, we must never. For artists have been known to find one spark within a list of dull moments, the proof is certainly in the pudding.

As the cash strapped Zimbabweans dig deep and hustle hard to attend the show, it is but a matter of time before we deduce which side of the fence we lie. Hopefully it will not suffer the same fate as the simultaneously coming Jacaranda mauve; sprawling from high above, but utterly worthless junk when it touches the ground.

Coming full circle of Zolani Mahola.

Many an artist today rarely come full circle. Along their artistic path, there are swayed and persuaded and at times thrown off balance. Being consumed by the limelight in such a way that throws off their initial love with the arts into a downward spiral. They simply forget the reason they became (popular) in the first place.

This ‘secondary’ package (the glitz and the glamour), consumes the head and has veered many off track. As art lovers we experience a loss and consequently the same in the artist’s coffers.

Only a few can be described as coming of age or mature in the music industry, mainly because of the failure to keep the fire that shot them to stardom in the first place, well lit. This constant search for relevance and to be appealing is an art very seldom known to many. A humbling experience it may be, it serves as a reminder of how the arts are constantly evolving and emerging and that the only way you can discover yourself again is to be at the place you started from, in that zone, in that moment.

We have today, many one hit wonders than we have had of fully established entertainers because of the etching of the circle itself, some quickly lose sight. The circle is not to be achieved. A fully fledged artist is not to be.

Zolani Mahola, shot to stardom with her alluring voice, one as such I had never heard before. She placed herself amongst a group of talented artists’ and compositions and backed it up with repeated musical offerings that till today earn a spot within the artistic landscape of the country. Her voice remains one that resembled a fullness every other singer longs for and her persona embodied a true version of ‘my’ African artist, versatile and beaming with prospect of international recognition, a wave she rod quite beautifully for years until she decided to come back to the place where she envisioned herself well before everything we know about her came to be.

In this dog-eat-dog industry, she has remained viable and musically sort after. Her name can easily be carved amongst the greats the country has produced but instead she has not let fame and fortune consume her head but instead use it as draft under her wings, to soar even higher.

One can almost be short of an answer as to what next for such a great career? As times change and the musical landscape transforms itself, remaining viable is a hard job, hence we have many an artist grabbing any ounce of limelight that is thrown to them.

A mother of two, a wife, singer and recently just starred in a theatrical at the Johannesburg Theatre, Calling me Home. It seems she has found her way back home to theatre, her first love with the arts before Freshlyground shot her to super stardom-ship. She envisioned herself being more into theatre but as fate would have it she had to set it aside and focus on becoming a lead singer and song writer.

 “I loved being in the theatre and it is a passion that I had to put aside for the growth of Freshlyground. When I left high school my ambition was to be a theatre-maker, an actress and potentially a director but I ran into singing somewhere along the way. I rode that wave and fifteen years later I came back to me with this production.”

She openly admits that she would love to do more theatre work, despite her first not receiving rave reviews as she would have hoped. Something she knows how to handle from the unforgiving world of music. 

Zolani theatre
Zolani in Coming Home

 Read more on “Coming Home” here

Mahola’s re-discovery is what I think every artist needs to achieve this full circle. While a part of me thinks she never left theatre but was playing varied acts with the same cast in different roles and plays in the music Freshlyground has been making for over fifteen years.

Her performances with the group have been big enough and demanding, unlike any other theatre act ever played on any stage

While Freshlyground is set to realise new material soon as they started recording in December of 2016 with Banana Republic being a single lifted from this upcoming album.

“We started recording fifteen songs in December of 2016 and we are taking our time with crafting those songs. We released Banana Republic on Freedom Day here in South Africa way before we meant to release any of the songs because of the relevance of the song to South Africa’s current socio-political climate..” She said.

The group is not new to protest songs, they realised “Chicken to change” in protest to Zimbabwe’s nonagenarian leader who has led the country for more than 36 years and is about to run for another term in 2018.

“It was a response to the seeming indifference of the ruling powers to the well-being of the South African population. It is a protest song for the modern times… we elected the ruling powers because we felt they would redress the failures of past governments but we have found that largely they want to line their own pockets and are spreading a culture of a profound disrespect for the rule of law. Apartheid so fundamentally undermined the dignity of most of the citizens of our country and much of the time it seems as though the government that we have elected similarly tramples on this fragile dignity. We felt we needed to make these feelings known and put on record: hence the release of the song Banana Republic.” Said Zolani.

Despite the group’s music being banned in Zimbabwe, Zolani does not see herself as an activist but rather a social commentator,

I would not define myself as an activist but I would say that an artist needs to reflect the society they live in.. As an artist I need to comment on the things I see in the world and present this commentary in the best way I know how … for me that is to sing and to act.”

While for many artists, having a husband, two kids and a career usually drags them down, it seems she has done the opposite and has even found the energy to shed a few kilos in the process. All of which has not been easy, she explains, but it has been important enough for her to note that she can achieve even more, if she sets her mind to it.

“…the main reason to shed all that weight was a need to make my physical image conform with the image I had in my head of who I was, of what I looked like when I thought of myself….I do very often times struggle against the idealised notions of beauty that we have bought into in modern society and I have since I was a very young girl. It’s sad… but true.”

Zolani Mahola certainly inspires her fellows, she has remained a true artist despite the burdens of being a woman artist, mother and wife and has added onto her repertoire, a theatrical appearance of equal relevance to her coming of age within the arts industry.

I have followed her music career since the beginning and I would love to own and listen to a solo album from the Waka Waka singer which I have no doubt would be nothing but styled in the manner she has helped shape the music within the group she finds herself in.

With Zolani
Me with Zolani in Harare, Zimbabwe (2005)

Her reuniting with her lost love (theatre) could just be the start of a whole new path for her that could easily lead to her going solo, not that her outfit is in anyway pulling her down, a thought she was reluctant to dwell into but could easily suggest, the thought had crossed her mind.

Listening to ‘Nomvula- After the rain‘ which she co-wrote will tell you a bit about her song writing prowess coupled with an alluring voice such as she packs will definitely make her stand out far more than any other solo artist.

I am almost tempted to explore this line of thought, as I imagine what the world would have been if Beyonce had not braved the cold and discomfort of being a lone crooner. How Michael Jackson would have never become the legend he was if he didn’t step out of the pack, maybe, just maybe, Zolani Mahola could be amongst this group of mega icons.