Sir David Adjaye Designs Memorial in Honour of Hugh Masekela
Yesterday marked the 80th Birthday of the late, great Bra Hugh Masekela. The iconic African musician brought the stories of the African people to life through his melodies and masterfully curated lyrics. His music is celebrated all over the world and speaks not only of love and friendship, but it also deals with the tense political realities many African people face.
However, Bra Hugh Masekela was more than just a musician, he was a revered Pan-Africanist, a creative industry activist and a cultural pioneer. He was committed to the realisation of a truly post-colonial African landscape. A little over a year since the passing of Bra Hugh, the Masekela family, in collaboration with renowned architect Sir David Adjaye and Design Indaba, are preparing to unveil a memorial pavilion in honour of the great Hugh Ramapolo Masekela. The unveiling of the memorial will take place in June of this year, during South Africa’s ‘Youth Month’. Embracing African tradition, the memorial will serve as space where visitors are able to take a moment to reflect and celebrate the work, life and impact of Hugh Masekela.
“African monuments are a place of gathering and reflection, they help us edify the significance of our ancestors, our heritage and culture. Monuments act as a reminder of our duty in the present to honour the past, they spur us to make a better future’’, says Sir David Adjaye. Inspired by African burial and ritual practices, including African cultural and spiritual beliefs, the pavilion will serve as a way to remember and connect with those who have left the physical realm and who are now embracing the role as their ancestors.
The memorial pavilion features a perforated rooftop which mimics local flora capturing the light and breeze. The shadows from the surrounding plant life are reflected across the pavilion floor welcoming visitors old and new. On the base of the pavilion is a statement inscribed by the Masekela family. The structure of the pavilion will also feature specially selected stones. These stones are a representation of the various nations where Bra Hugh spent time in while in exile.
Barbara Masekela, representing the Masekela family, mentions that “Our family could not be more honoured to have such an iconic son of the soil, Sir David Adjaye design this immutable memorial pavilion which beautifully reflects Hugh Masekela’s openness and his love of Africa. A true Pan-Africanist, we are touched that the design is by a world-renowned architect born in Ghana, another part of our beautiful continent Hugh regarded as home”.
In 2018, Design Indaba and the Zeitz MOCAA honoured the late Hugh Masekela by announcing that the second floor of the modern art museum will be named the Hugh Masekela Gallery. Hugh Masekela had a significant impact on the arts and cultural spaces in Africa and beyond. Masekela was lauded as the father of South African Jazz. “I believe it is fitting that a cultural icon such as Hugh Masekela is honoured by yet another cultural icon such as the Zeitz MOCAA, ” explains Ravi Naidoo, founder and managing director of Design Indaba.
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