African design captures spirit of Hugh Masekela

THE family of iconic musician and trumpeter Hugh Masekela gathered for the unveiling of the Hugh Masekela Memorial Pavilion at Westpark Cemetery in Joburg on Saturday.

The proceedings started with cultural chants led by the family, who had gathered around the arcade. The structure was designed by British architect Sir David Adjaye, who declared that the family wanted to create something special for Masekela, whom he described as a “huge creative force and inspiration”.

“Hugh was such a huge spirit for me, a huge creative force and inspiration. We worked with the Design Indaba team who Hugh had a very long relationship with, who connected to me and I met the family. I had been doing small works in Joburg, so I had a team here and got it together to work on this pavilion.”

Adjaye added that they wanted to dignify the late jazz legend, creating a shrine for an African king.

“We’ve brought four stones from corners of the continent, the north-east, north-west, the south and the centre, to the pavilion.

"Those are the stones you will see inscribed with Hugh’s name," he said.

Huge 1781 - African design captures spirit of Hugh Masekela
The Hugh Masekela Memorial Pavilion, designed by Sir David Adjaye, was unveiled at Westpark Cemetery in Joburg. The pavilion and garden is a collaboration between Ravi Naidoo of the Design Indaba Trust and Adjaye Associates working with stakeholders, including Joburg City Parks. PIcture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency(ANA)

The pavilion’s canopy reflects not just the sky but also the idea of gathering under a tree. It is the drawing of sunlight through a beautiful tree.

The legendary jazz musician died in Johannesburg in the early morning of January 23, 2018, of prostate cancer, aged 78. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2008. Cancer took a significant toll on the musician in 2016 after it spread and he had to have eye surgery done in March of that year.

In January 2018, Masekela’s death was announced to the world.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by many dignitaries, including former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, veteran musician Abigail Kubeka and actress Thembi Mtshali, among others.

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