Bra Hugh lights up Harare

HARARE - World-acclaimed jazz maestro Hugh Masekela gave a mind-blowing presentation during a concert held in Harare on Saturday night.

Masekela’s performance at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale justified the entry charge of between $80 and $125 revellers paid to be entertained by the crooner.

The Avondale venue came alive the moment Bra Hugh, as he is fondly referred to by his legion of fans at home and abroad, came on to the stage.

Dressed in black, the 76-year-old maestro lent credence to claims that “age ain’t nothing but a number” when he engaged in a serious get-down, flugel horn in hand, as he serenaded the crowd with his popular hit Chilese.

His smooth moves, the seamless swapping of instruments and his husky voice sent fans into a frenzy.

The crowd which had kept to their seats during the performances by internationally-acclaimed Mookomba and Victor Kunonga and the Peace Band, who also gave a good account of themselves, could not help but get up.

The KwaGuga township born artiste, who began his musical career at the tender age of 14, had his fans in stitches when he said: “This band is a front; we are under ground. The students sent us here to bring back the bones of Cecil John Rhodes.”

Before the revellers could recover, Masekela, who has since 1954 been playing music that reflects conflict, agony and exploitation, belted another popular tune Mama much to the delight of the sparse crowd. Masekela had the audience hanging on every note.

Bra Hugh also provoked feelings of nostalgia when he performed Stimela, a song about an era when many young men from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland and Botswana migrated to South Africa to work in the mines.

In Zimbabwe these migrants were said to have gone to Wenera. Some of the migrants, however, never made it back home hence the term akarovera wenera.

The Manhattan School of Music trained-artiste also performed popular hits like Thanyi at the show attended by a cosmopolitan crowd. The jazz maestro also had the audience on their feet when he belted out his late friend Fela Kuti’s hit song She go say I be lady.

The late great Mirriam Makeba’s ex-husband, who exuded professionalism all night, gave a performance of a lifetime despite the poor turnout. He unleashed hit after hit and had fans screaming for more.

Prominent figures like University of Zimbabwe law lecturer and political activist Munyaradzi Gwisai and the country’s eye specialist Solomon Guramatunhu also attended the show.

“It was indeed a great performance,” Guramatunhu said.

Bra Hugh’s Saturday night performance was the second edition of the Ngoma neHosho Live Sessions Series put together by Harare-based arts promotions organisation Ngoma neHosho led by Walter Wanyanya.

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