It is with heavy heart that I confirm that my father, Hugh Ramapolo Masekela, has hung up his horn after a long battle with prostate cancer. It is difficult to comprehend that this moment is real. To me, my father has always been both ageless and immortal. Of the countless shows I had the honor of watching my dad perform, each felt like the first, each felt brand new. At the age of 5 he first introduced me to the late night halls of Manhattan’s The Village Gate and Mikell’s, where he would steal the hearts and souls of innocents with a musical storytelling all his own, passionately and relentlessly transporting them to the farthest reaches of Africa with both voice and trumpet. It was these moments and his choosing to take me around the globe any chance he got, that would come to shape my entire world view. As a product of the meticulously designed apartheid regime of 20th century South Africa, my fathers life was the definition of activism and resistance. Despite the open arms of many countries, for 30 years he refused to take citizenship anywhere else on this earth. His belief too strong that the pure evil of a systematic racist oppression could and would be crushed. Instead he would continue to fight. He was right. To know Hugh Masekela was to know no matter class, creed, color, religion or any other made up distinctions, he stood with empathy and compassion, locked arm in arm with the distressed, displaced and downtrodden everywhere and anywhere on this planet. He carried a deep seeded belief in justice, freedom and equality for all peoples to the very end. He scoffed at the futile idea of borders defining humanity. Even more than all of that, it was his undying and childlike love for South Africa and the entire African continent; with its dizzying displays of natural beauty, music, art and culture that mesmerized me more than anything. He was beautifully obsessed with showcasing the endless magic and pageantry of African peoples to a western obsessed world. After a recent trip to Tanzania caused me to share with my dad that my heart was full, he simply said this to me, ‘I can give you my heart to take in the overspill’. 🇿🇦
Selema “Sal” Masekela is a beloved host, commentator, journalist, musician, and producer best known for his work presenting ESPN’s Summer and Winter X Games; NBC’s Red Bull Signature Series; his cultural reporting in South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup; hosting E!’s DAILY 10; and hosting and executive producing the award-winning TV show VICE WORLD OF SPORTS (2017 Producers Guild of America award winner for “Outstanding Sports Program”).
Currently, Sal is the host of “Audi Think Faster,” an AMA series from Audi Sport and Reddit where pop culture icons answer audience submitted questions while going as fast as possible in an Audi R8. Additionally, he is an on-air correspondent for National Geographic Explorer.
Sal’s flair for entertainment emerged at an early age as he toured the world with his father, South African jazz icon Hugh Masekela. Sal’s first film ALEKESAM, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012, chronicles his relationship with his father and their connection through music. Sal’s band, also named ALEKESAM, has been featured on ENTOURAGE as well as the season four premiere of the Showtime hit HOUSE OF LIES. They recently dropped their new single, “Oh Shante (feat. Too $hort)” which debuted with a personalized RVCA video.