It is no wonder they call him the ‘Jazz Maestro,’ at 76 years of age, Bra Hugh Masekela can still ‘get down’ the way he did in the eighties. This past weekend, the Botswana Craft courtyard was filled to the brim with fans, ranging from the young to the old, who had thronged Gaborone’s premier live event venue to witness the legend perform his magic.
Local jazz maestro, Socca Moruakgomo, opened up the show and sang the crowd’s favourites, Wena, Let’s stand together and other popular renditions from his impressive repertoire. To the crowd’s amazement, he was joined on stage by Masekela and they performed a duet they recorded together entitled Mr. Flight. Trumpets wailed in unison to the delight of the crowd and at the height of the performance, a very emotive moment was shared when the two men’s eyes met, a once in a lifetime opportunity photographers jumped to capture for posterity. Moruakgomo took a moment to thank Masekela for the role he had played in his career as a younger artist.
“I would like to thank Bra Hugh for all that he has done for me in my career. He has always encouraged me to play more and to take better care of myself.” Moruakgomo narrated how Masekela once called him from London and told him that he had arranged for him to meet Mbongeni Ngema. “Without an audition, Ngema called me to do a song with him thanks to Bra Hugh,” explained Moruakgomo.
As if what was being dished out to fans was not enough, a legend from the sixties was rolled onto stage amidst hysterical screams from the crowd. Babsy Mlangeni, South African Mpaxanga icon, lip synced Sala Eme, a song that thrust him to stardom in 1969. This surprise guest threw the crowd into a frenzy followed by Thembile Africa, another South African group who serenaded the crowd with their husky voices. When Masekela finally stepped onto stage, the crowd had been waiting with baited breath and as usual he did not disappoint. The crowd clapped and cheered as he opened with a perennial favourite Thanayi followed by Chilishe, Mamoriri, Mama (a song he recorded in 1992,) Motlalepula, and of course the crowd’s favorites Stimela and Khauleza. This was Masekela’s second showing at The Live sessions and indeed set the pace for the rest of the year’s installments