JOHANNESBURG - Legendary jazz musician Hugh Masekela has passed away following a battle with prostate cancer.
In a statement released this morning, the Masekela family says the music icon passed away in Johannesburg surrounded by his loved ones after fighting a courageous battle with prostate cancer.
They've described him as a loving father, grandfather, brother and friend.
The 78-year-old trumpeter had been receiving treatment since 2008, when doctors discovered a small “speck” on his bladder.
While the treatment appeared to be successful, he had to undergo surgery in March 2016 as the cancer had spread.
Last year, Masekela announced that another tumour had been discovered after he fell while on tour in Morocco in April.
The musician then had emergencey treatment in September to neutralise the tumour and subsequently cancelled all of his music commitments to continue the fight against prostate cancer.
"Bra Hugh", as he was affectionately known throughout the world, was renowned for his many hits like Bring back Nelson Mandela.
In a career spanning more than five decades, Masekela gained international recognition with his distinctive afro-jazz sound and hits such as Soweto blues, which served as one of the sound-tracks to the anti-apartheid movement, and of course the unmistakable Stimela.
President Jacob Zuma has sent his condolences to the Masekela family, describing "Bra Hugh" as one of the pioneers of jazz music in this country.
Zuma says that his passing is an immeasurable loss the country.
His spokesperson Bongani Nqulunga: "President Jacob Zuma has said that the nation mourns one of its most recognisable, signature talents in the person of Bra Hugh Masekela. The president has said that his passing is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten."
Local musician and producer Loyiso Bala worked with Bra Hugh on the Bala Family Album.
He says the icon always brought laughter and joy to the studio.
“He was probably the oldest person I knew who I identified with in every single aspect. He was able to come down to your level; you would never say he was a super star. He was absolutely humble, always funny and full of life.”
This article first appeared on EWN : SA jazz legend Hugh Masekela dies