Student Blog: Hugh Masekela on Culture, The Arts and Fame

South African two-time Grammy winner and jazz legend, Hugh Masekela was on campus for the ALU Grand Opening celebration last week. A few of us got to sit with him and ask about everything from culture to dealing with fame. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom he shared:

On Music and fame

You deserve to be passionate about whatever you do

  • I was bewitched with music and when you’re bewitched, you don’t need inspiration. I’m a rare case. With me it was a disease
  • Thinking you are important is the beginning of your diminishment

On culture

We can’t keep on imitating people and say we want to be African leaders

  • Try to interact with elders when you go back home for vacation because one thing we are losing is our African heritage
  • There’s something wrong if you don’t know your heritage, and you know other people’s culture
  • The African musicians who are known internationally are the heritage-oriented ones
  • That traditional stuff never dies; it just stays there forever
  • We’ll never be able to change what is going on until we begin to realize that we live on a continent with artificial frontiers

On the Arts

Nobody can touch Africans when it comes to dance, music, literature, art and design but we’re not showing it off

  • You have to be aggressive if you want to go into original stuff. You either do it or you don’t

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