By Nomali Cele
Over a year ago, we lost one of our musical guides when Bra Hugh Masekela passed away. This past weekend, a memorial pavilion in his honour was unveiled in the presence of his surviving family members, friends and colleagues.
The Bra Hugh Masekela Memorial Pavilion is was conceived as a place where people can gather and reflect. He was, after all, someone who encouraged and ignited conversations across generations. Indeed, his family confirmed the Hugh Masekela Memorial Pavilion as a place to “gather, reflect and celebrate the life and impact of Hugh Masekela.”
This year, the legendary Masekela would have been 80 years old. Thus the continued celebrations of his legacy and life are bound to keep coming. The latest celebration, the memorial at West Park Cementary, is a collaboration between the Masekela family, Masekela Foundation and Design Indaba is a conversation piece.
The designer behind the concept, renown architect, Sir David Adjaye, says he was inspired by African traditions as much as Masekela’s own work and legacy. How do Africans treat those who’ve passed on? How do we commune with them? The answers to these questions went into the building of this memorial.
Speaking to Design Indaba, former ambassador and Bra Hugh’s sister, Barbara Masekela, said, “It was important to us, as the Masekela family, that the structure reflected Hugh’s essence– he was warm, loving and generous to a fault, and had the gift of connecting effortlessly and joyously with people.”
Sir David Adjaye is concerned with the ways architecture and storytelling can be used to preserve and shape identities. A recent project of his is called “Making Memory” and was all about how we tell our stories. Adjaye believes that “Monuments are a record of who we are and are deeply ingrained in our psyche as a way of memorialising our triumphs and failures.”
Friends including Thembi Mtshali came to celebrate the unveiling of the memorial
What decolonial, destiny-altering conversations will we have in Bra Hugh’s memory? What actions will we take thereafter?
Images via the Hugh Masekela Foubdation