FAREWELL TO OUR CHIEF PATRON OF THE ARTS & HERITAGE GUARDIAN PAR EXCELLENCE, BRA HUGH.
The wRite associates is honoured to have had the opportunity to work with you in your other two passions: the Hugh Masekela Annual Lecture you consented to our establishing in your honour, and the Africa Century International African Writers Conference as fellow patron with our National Poet Laureate, Bro Willie, aka Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile, guerrilla of the imagination and Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer, and our father of African letters, Prof Chinua Achebe, now all welcoming you in the greater pastures yonder.
Heritage forever your consuming metaphor for all life’s complexities, you all blew from the same songbook as the 1991 OAU’s Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture committed “… to afford the African people a moment of pause within which to reflect on the contribution of African Writers to the development of the Continent”.
In the Hugh Masekela Annual Lecture, we feel blessed at your concurrence with our aim of the series being “to create a platform for heritage, cultural, academic, art, and social discourse to celebrate and reflect on Masekela’s philosophy, his work and contribution to the liberation and betterment of society.”
Not only did you wholeheartedly give these passions your all, you invested everything in your power to see them succeed, including personally attending and participating therein, bar only when a temporary inconvenience chanced by.
The inaugural and successive Lectures were delivered and reflected on by your personally anointed heritage restoration fellow pioneers and warriors Oliver Mutukudzi, Sibongile Khumalo, Pitika Ntuli, Don Mattera, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Barbara Masekela and Nomsa Mazwai.
The Lecture, with the host partner you tuned us must be UJ (University of Johannesburg) Soweto campus and the dress code to be township style, is the truest testimony of celebrating you, Bra Hugh, beyond your vast and impressive musical canvass, taking into account your intellectual and heritage activist footprint.
Another true and rare honour for us was when, in 2015, you agreed to our taking the Hugh Masekela Annual Lecture beyond the borders of South Africa, to Uganda, where, in collaboration with the International University of East Africa, Kampala, you mesmerised the masses there with your fellow muso and protégé, Isaiah Katuma.
At our arrival at the Entebbe International Airport we witnessed how you were treated and feted like royalty or head of state as all roads were cleared for just you, and a guard of honour led by a presidential cavalcade.
It was a great moment for all of us when, at the end of that massive Hugh Masekela Annual Lecture and Concert in Kampala, Uganda, the International University of East Africa’s President and Principal, Prof Olubayi Olubayi, with Dr Emeka Akaezuwa, the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, announced their intention to establish the Hugh Masekela Centre of Heritage Studies, the official launch of which you’d be called to officiate over and become guardian saint thereof.
To continue your proud and empowering legacy, the wRite associates will, in bringing aboard like-minded partners, associates, sponsors and others, stage the Hugh Masekela Annual Memorial Lecture for many years to come.
Rest in peace, Bra Hugh, yours has been and is a flugelhorn blowing to no end.
We are richer for having allowed us to learn at your knee!
We miss you! We’ll miss you!
Robala ka kgotso!
The wRite associates
27 January 2018
Bro Willie, We Met Before We Met
A Tribute to Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile, SA’s National Poet Laureate.
By Morakabe Raks Seakhoa –
It was in the heady ‘70s, just on the eve of the 1976 eruptions that shook the apartheid substructure to its very core that you gallantly marched into our youthful consciousness.
Your larger than life, your gigantic lyrical, fiery lines of conscientising poetic mrhabulo illumined our fierce freedom march no power on earth could delay, nor even crush or stop, whether by intimidation, torture, imprisonment, maiming, disappearings, exile or death.
Your outlawed, uninhibited and roadmapping work, long before the rule of the internet, email and cellphone, miraculously and timeously found their way to our forever thirsty and welcoming minds, arming us to the teeth to explode away oppression of one by another, preparing us for the long road to today’s freedom’s birth.
What a marvel when we, at last, now met you in person, at last, at last! That was in 1990, just after you, with your sharp and bomb-like pen, pointed our oppressors’ gaze to the writing on the wall.
The writers’ fraternity, through the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW) you helped sire, welcomed you back like a long-lost guide you truly were. A never-ending festival of life-giving interaction ensued, through poetry-laden socio-political workshops, politically-nuanced and tempered poetics of our times in public readings, new dawn policy formulations, presentations and lectures (the latter you said you never really liked, rather strange for such a towering and world-respected scholar and Professor who’s every breath was you as our untiring teacher).
Post-exile, you wasted no time in getting us to walk with you the streets of our land, retracing your steps through the nooks and crannies of your being before Comrade OR Tambo called you abroad to help broaden, deepen and rebuild our people’s parliament, the African National Congress that the oppressor vowed to obliterate.
Your intellect unparalleled, clarity of mind and thought, sage-like, drew queens, kings, presidents, ministers, premiers and city mothers and fathers like moth to light: making you their advisor of choice.
We at the wRite associates take pride in, with the assistance and partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, being the lightning rod for the process of establishing the South African Literary Awards that bestowed on you the title of the pre-eminent poet of the nation, the South African National Poet Laureate, after your elder brother and comrade, Professor Mazisi Kunene, who handed you this baton after his departure yonder.
As we bid you farewell, Bro Willie, our foremost mentor, Comrade and lodestar, we derive solace in the fact that, much to your chagrin and initial toyitoying against our idea and intention of honouring you, your memory and your precious, precious legacy with the Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture four years ago, you finally, albeit reluctantly, acquiesced to our request and, to the very end, gave it your unconditional support and presence at all the presentations thereof.
Bro Willie, hard as it is, we have no choice but to accept your departure yonder, in the full knowledge that, with you and your forever beloved, Aus’ Baby’s abiding counsel, in this the fourth anniversary of the Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture, your fourscore coming of age was, or, rather, is, going to be a bonfire literary affair like no other, “letting countless flowers blossom and innumerable schools of thought contend” amongst your peers, friends he young and old, colleagues and all everywhere.
This way we shall and must salute you, our Prof, our National Poet Laureate, our Bro Willie!
Robala ka kgotso. Robala ka kgutso, Bro Willie, you Forever Young!
Morakabe Raks Seakhoa is a poet, founder director of the wRite associates and the South African Literary Awards, convenor of Africa Century International African Writers Conference and Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture