01 February 2018

This music. There should be a better word for it. Something about force, heart, soul, depths.

Hugh Masekela died last week.

In the late 1980s when I was living in paradise, we would listen to this song in silence. My co-wokers, who normally were happily skipping and shuffling to reggae and zouk and moutia and sega, sat motionless whenever this song was played on the radio or from the boomboxes they brought to work.

I may have been their boss, in theory, but when it came to music at work, visiting family, girlfriends/boyfriends, buying and selling of home produce incl. illegally collected seabird eggs or the trading of foreign currency, I was powerless. And reader, I didn't mind one bit. I only tried eating an omelet made from seabird eggs once, too fishy for my taste.

For the men and women in my office, the ultimate shithole country was apartheid South Africa and they told me by the way they listened to this song. 

In my time there and since, I have met a good few people who call this beautiful stunning natural beauty of a country a shithole mostly because the shopping experience is severely limited, there are too many mosquitoes, it is always hot and humid, it rains almost every day, the birds make a racket every evening before sunset, the bats make a racket all night, the dogs bark all day and night, there are children everywhere, and so on.

And I should add nepotism, that terrible African trait whereby members of the ruling clan are given cushy government posts. Plus, backhanding, blatantly corrupt officials, off shore tax schemes, all these strictly African shithole characteristics. No?
The tinier the country, the more obvious they are.
And the rumours of political intrigues, secret prisoners, coup attempts, exiles. Yes, many of them were true. Every week someone would walk up to my desk with secret information, sometimes testing me and if I fell for it, and I usually did, there was much slapping up thighs and laughter.
Paradise was (is) a bad place. Human greed etc.

(But also, free school for all, free health care for all, clean buses running to almost everywhere, more women in government positions than anywhere else in the world, active trade unions, a ban on all plastic packaging, strict observation of environmental protection laws etc.)

I was lucky to see/hear/experience Hugh Masekela live, here in our city. It was a cold night for an open air concert. He had us all sweating and shouting in no time.


  1. Art, and especially music, have done more for change in this world than anything else I can think of.

  2. Paradise sounds pretty wonderful to me -- I mean, our "Western" (for lack of a better word) governments and societies are plagued with their own problems. It's not like we're experts!

    Music has amazing powers, as Ms. Moon said, and it can bring back memories so effectively.

  3. i know exactly what you're saying, but trump and his cohorts would not get the nuance. sad for them, and for us all.

  4. Oh lucky woman, hearing Hugh Masekela ... as for shithole countries, I don’t suppose Donald is too impressed by Malawi, but then he never met the wonderful, hardworking people that I did (including the unique Everlasting!)

  5. Sources (probably ignorant journalists) refer to him as a trumpeter. But all the photos show him playing a flugelhorn - not a million miles away of course but as an ex-trumpeter myself I prefer exactitude. Any comments?

    1. Lazy journalists, they just copied the first item from the longer list on Wikipedia, where Hugh Masekela is listed as "trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer and singer". He was also an accomplished dancer and what we in this family call a roarer (from the bottom of your belly upwards).

  6. Thank you for turning me on to Masekela's music.
    All the malevolent and conspiring tactics of of this crazy dictator...and yet the world goes on. Music gets written, art gets life and love is found. I am astounded.