We really struck gold with Hugh Masekela

By Glen Bart, MyVueNews.com

G. A. Dwyer Astaphan

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 24th January, 2017 (MyVueNews.com) – Famed musician, the recently deceased Hugh Masekela was a man who not only raised the profile of South Africa, but the continent as a whole through his music and activism in the anti-apartheid era.

This view was expressed by social commentator and activist, Dwyer Astaphan, as he recalled the outstanding performance of Hugh Masakela at the 1998 St. Kitts Music Festival on the grounds of the old Fort Thomas Hotel.

Speaking with MyVueNews.com, Astaphan reflected on Masakela, as a jazz musician and a world class performer.

“He was great, and we were very fortunate in St. Kitts and Nevis to have hosted him, many moons ago, as a performer at our Music Festival, and his performance that night was quite pleasing.”

Masakela’s music, agitation against the oppression of apartheid and his general activism became a powerful combination for a message of liberation that was not only applicable to South Africa, but to oppression anywhere else in the world.

Astaphan said, “Through his music, agitation and activism, he was able to bring greater attention to the anti-apartheid movement, and he certainly will go down in history as one of the prime movers in that process, but at the same time, he was also trying to raise the profile of the entire continent, and to put the continent into a better position where it commanded greater respect throughout the world through his music and his activism.”

He said also, “In all of those areas, he certainly performed creditably, and the states men and states women, both of Africa and elsewhere, will agree with that.”

Astaphan commented also, Mandela, Bishop Tutu and others in other parts of Africa appreciated greatly his contribution, because he gave, through his music, an understanding and an avenue to the problems in South African, and generally in Africa.”

So, with an eye on musicians from Africa, the St. Kitts Music Festival began its search. The St. Kitts Music Festival began under the stewardship of Dwyer Astaphan, who was, at the time, the Minister of Tourism.

While making it clear that as minister, he did not interfere with the selection of artistes, Astaphan explained it was a policy initiative to actively pursue musicians from Africa.

He told MyVueNews.com, “I made it my business, as a minister, not to interfere with the selection of artistes. However, I thought it was also my duty to let the persons making those decisions know that part and parcel of the vision was to bring African performers to St. Kitts and Nevis, for us to get, even subliminal, the message of the connection between Africa and this part of the world through the music, but given the historic background of people living in this part of the world, I thought it was important to have African musicians come here. We did try with musicians from Ghana and other countries, but we were not as fortunate, but we really struck gold with Hugh Masekela that year.”

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