The legendary South African jazz musician and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela died Jan. 23 in Johannesburg. He was 78.
Masekela had a special meaning to us at The World. He was embedded in the fabric of the show — in the early days, whenever we had a technical problem, we would play his song “Uptownship” while we figured out what was wrong. Hearing that song still makes us nervous.
But more than that, the way Masekela lived his life — mixing diverse influences, moving between borders, embracing joy while speaking out about injustice — is a metaphor for what we strive for here on our show.
Our host, Marco Werman, had the honor of interviewing Masekela on numerous occasions.
In this wide-ranging interview from May 28, 1999, Marco spoke to Masekela about his musical inspirations, his life, his family and his devotion to South Africa. We hope you enjoy it.