“The Boy is Doing it!”–Tribute to South African Trumpeter Hugh Masekela

Reposted from 2013. The loss of this great musician and human rights activist has touched my heart. Rest with the ancestors Bra Hugh Masekela.

I have been listening to and following jazz, funk, soul artist Hugh Masekela since my early college years. I used to go see him annually at a club just outside of Boston. One of my student-colleague’s parents used to take us to the club because we were not of club age at that time. I remember the ambience created by Mr. Masekela’s soul enhancing music while we were ‘Grazing Through the Grass’ of the sixties and seventies. I’ve never been without this music.

The music followed me and us through the anti-apartheid activities that ultimately help lead to the end of that heinous system of separation and disenfranchisement in Mr. Masekela’s native land, South Africa. Actually, Bra Masekela, as he is affectionately called by his countrymen and admirers, played a key role internationally in actively resisting the apartheid system.

I had the opportunity to visit South Africa in 1996. I traveled to both Cape Town and Johannesburg where among other things I was hosted for an evening by a family in Johannesburg’s Soweto, Township. One thing I found during my short stay in South Africa is that the people there appreciate the role of the African American in the world struggle for justice and inclusion. I was honored there as a ‘comrade’ and sister on every front being called by the moniker Sis Lin during my stay. The night that I stayed with my Soweto family was one of the coldest nights that I had ever spent. We wrapped up in blankets in the heatless 1 degree Celsius night and waited for morning. In the morning the Mama heated some water for me to bathe with and I left for the airport thanking my hosts with a small tithe to their local church.

One time when I was living and working in Nairobi, Kenya in the late nineties, a group of my professional colleagues and I were walking in downtown Nairobi after enjoying a dinner out. We heard someone saying “cousins!” We were momentarily informed by a gentleman that we were being greeted by the great Mr. Hugh Masekela. Mr. Masekela was in town for a gig he was playing in Nairobi. Being a group of African American music enthusiasts, we were all familiar with Mr. Masekela’s music and we stopped to tease and chat a bit. Anything can happen in Africa.

A couple of years back I saw Hugh Masekela’s performance at Houston’s International Festival. A group of friends and I danced uninhibitedly to the music that has even gained in texture and maturity throughout Mr. Masekela’s many years in the business. His entourage created an African-like scenario on a world music platform that educated as well as entertained. Mr. Masekela, terms himself a griot. I definitely concur with this title. His music and lyrical stories weave his experience and insights through the lens of his birthplace and home.

I remember feeling somewhat sad when Mr. Masekela’s performance was over. I felt like a family friend was leaving without an embrace. This is the magic of Bra Hugh Masekela’s presence and his music. I am still listening and following him as he continues his work at age 73 and counting. “The Boy Is Doing It!”
©2013 Linda Tauhid for Linda Tauhid’s Journal

Linda Tauhid is a Houston-based writer, poet and griot.

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King

i remember that day

in April

when we heard

of his death

and all i could do     

was walk outside

in frustrated anger   

and mourning.

surrounded by the brick-high

buildings of the housing project

we called home.

what had i hoped for?

what dream had been lost?

what affront was this to bear?

i did not know of icons,

only of hope…

and despair

that rocked the streets of Boston

and tore into the thread 

of contrived sanity

and security

well placed.

and in intervening times

i have lived purposefully,

spoken boldly

and often been sactioned.

but temporarily out-skirting

the final sanction

of death;

that interrupts

and nullifies

the actions

but never destroys

the purpose

or

the cause. 
Linda Tauhid

1/15/18

“Goodnight!”–for my Nana Dora

“Goodnight!”

it was the only ‘expletive’

i ever heard her utter.

in furious impatience

at her granddaughter

or some other worthy 

recipient.

she, a woman of The Book

from the Carolinas.

while in my worst moments

i speak to rival sailors

drawing heinous comparisons

shocking all listeners.

who cannot imagine

how a such a ‘diminutive’

ostensibly ‘holy’ woman

can turn

like the tides. 

i apologize

to my sons who spent some times

the subjects of such tirades…

and one of these nominates me the best/worst curser of all times.

but i am indeed well reserved,

until i read the news

or try to drive on this city’s roads

where people do not signal

or follow any rational means of order–

even frustrating a Boston driver;

or when someone does not treat me

in the manner that i deserve:

“Goodnight!”
Linda Tauhid

12/16/17

Snow in Houston

i have seen my share of snow

on New England sidewalks

and in Chicago winters

and I used to always wish

for unheard of snow in San Francisco; 

looking out from a pub on Divisadero

in a spirited December.

but snow in Houston

is very rare;

it brings awe

and excitement;

it is temporary,

ephemeral;

melting quickly away

before it can trouble

commuters

or get dirty from daily wear.

it accommodates 

a simple snow ball

when wiped from a car.

almost like snow

in London–

a brief visit

that reminds us

of the magic and beauty

of the time 

and other mysteries

beyond

our daily scope.

Linda Tauhid
©12/8/17

Tala

he took me

to his family

and taught me a few words

of his language: greetings

and their responses.

he made sure to minimize

my role, but his parents

being aged and wise

still knew.

i sat outside and talked

with his dad

and when i tried to walk away

for propriety, his wife beckoned me back.

a small farm and compound

in a rural town

outside of Nairobi.

they took me to their relations

and showed me picture albums

of their marriage;

we prayed and ate

and talked

while a radio played

in the background with no distraction.

I know now,

it was not about him

it was about the divine opportunity

to be transported as such

and to view and be viewed

by eyes that had seen much

with warmth and love.

and the gift of building

familial relations from unknown 

people 

and their places.

i returned to Nairobi

bearing a live rooster–

a gift from the mother

of his bride.
Linda Tauhid

©12/3/17

Grievance

she sat next to me that day

i had decided to give way

to full mourning–

to experience the bitter sting of death.

and when it seemed that i, a young girl,

had lost my self in the emotions and tears

of grief

she shored me up–saying “brace yourself”.

not since that day have i allowed death

to touch me in that way.

i knew of other ways to face its unweilding presence

to minimize its power over my heart.

so when she died–that strong, beautiful and brilliant lady that had stood next to me 

so many times throughout my life;

my tears were silent

and i spoke of her strongly and proudly.

because she had in her quiet way

taught me strength, forbearance and fortitude.

and she sits beside me now

her daughter that never listened

but still learned.
Linda Tauhid

©12/3/17

Antioch

he said:

“let’s take a walk down to the store

and then a slow walk back…”

and we did.

sipping quietly from glass bottles.

he liked my poetry

and probably me

but i couldn’t see much

at that time;

and now i miss

the dark rich smells

of youth and the texture

of well-oiled course black hair,

and the music we revered

as we grew beyond our worlds.

there has indeed 

been a revolution

not so much what we pictured

but indeed a fantastic change   

of times and events.

and i do not know about him,

but some of us are still here

driven by the Love

that started it all;

biding our time 

and still walking

towards whatever

we must

complete.
Linda Tauhid