As I did my normal Twitter scroll this morning, I came across a tweet that saddened me.
I first found Hugh Masekela in 1987 while watching Paul Simon’s Graceland concert special on HBO. My mom had the Graceland cassette tape (it would be another 4 years before the Heffernans had a CD player) and I had heard the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba. But watching that concert and seeing Hugh Masekela put passion into his trumpet was something that I was fascinated by. As a 12 year old trumpet player, he was what I aspired to be like. My trumpet career ended at the end of high school, but my love for his music lived on.
My worldgeochat buddy, Ed Casey, has written about the music as a primary source before. Ed and I have both used music as the primary sources to teach Apartheid. I don’t know that I will ever find a primary source as engaging as this one.
To see the passion that he played with and the response from the crowd as he sang, “Bring back Nelson Mandela, bring him back home to Soweto!” My students see it – the human response to Apartheid. The passion from performers and audience – both black and white. But they see so much more than that.
They see that music can spread a message of positivity.
They see that art is an important part of social change.
They see that we can use our passions and talents for good.
I have a poster in my room that I made 15 years ago with a picture of Hugh Masekela and this quote: If people travel as much as possible, not to invade and exploit, but to see what other cultures are like, it would make them more understanding.
As a geography teacher, what better message could there ever be?
Rest in peace Hugh Masekela. May your music be the soundtrack for generations to come.