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Photo by Brett Rubin.

Hugh Masekela Is Being Honored With a Memorial Pavilion Designed by David Adjaye

The pavilion and garden, spearheaded by the artists's family will honor the South African legend's Pan-African spirit.

Yesterday would have been the South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela's 80th birthday and to mark the momentous occasion, and honor his life, his family has commissioned the building of a memorial pavilion in his honor by celebrated Ghanaian architect David Adjaye (OBE).

The memorial pavilion and garden will be "a place to gather, reflect and celebrate the life and impact of Hugh Ramapolo Masekela," read a statement from the family.

"African monuments are a place of gathering and reflection, they help us edify the significance of our ancestors, our heritage and culture," says Adjaye about the cultural significance of the design. "Monuments act as a reminder of our duty in the present to honour the past, they spur us to make a better future," he adds.

READ: 20 Essential Hugh Masekela Songs


The unique design is also meant to recognize Pan-Africanist heritage, which Masekela was a major proponent of through his collaborations with fellow African artists across the diaspora. The pavilion will borrow from African burial practices, which often include the building of distinct structures where loved ones can congregate and reflect on those lost.

The pavilion will be inscribed with a message from his family, and will also house various symbolic stones that represent the many places Masekela travelled within the continent while he was in exile, as seen in the design mockups below.

Image courtesy of Adjaye Associates

Image courtesy of Adjaye Associates

"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's openness and his love of Africa," says Ambassador Barbara Masekela on behalf of the family. "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."

The pavilion will be unveiled by his family in June, in conjunction with Youth Month in South Africa.

This is not the only exciting news happening around the artist's legacy either. Yesterday, the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) and The ELMA Music Foundation, in partnership with the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation have also announced a new scholarship in the musicians honor. The Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship, dedicated to the "life-long advocate and embodiment of African identity, heritage, and expression," will allow for six South African students to study music on a full-ride at MSM, where the artist once studied. Applications will open in September 1.

"This scholarship not only honors the great artist's legacy," said Tarik Ward, Director, Music Programs, The ELMA Philanthropies. "But also nurtures the next generation of South African musicians and upholds his vision to preserve and promote African heritage, culture, and identity."

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Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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Photo by Polly Irungu

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The exhibition, currently showing at Okay Space Gallery, advocates for fair practices in the West African chocolate industry.

What happened when cocoa hero Tony's Chocolonely and creative wonder kid Joshua Kissi rolled up to the Okay Space on the same night? Chocolate-y magic and sweet enlightenment. The two entities have been working together on a project called REFRAMED: Cocoa and Color aimed at shifting the perspective on the West African cocoa farmers who make Chocolonely's delectable bars.

The project kicked off its first US exhibition with us at the Okay Space Gallery in early October, where brightly colored chocolate bars of all sizes covered the tables as attendees had their pick of a variety of Tony Chocolonely's chocolate. Anywhere you looked, there was chocolate and smiles. The only time folks stopped munching on chocolate was to take a bite of the fantastic cuisine—jollof rice, fried plantains and beef skewers—from Gold Coast Catering and plantain ice cream from Kelewele NYC. The room was packed with a diverse and wonderful crowd, excited to interact with Kissi's work and curious about learning how the chocolate brand was focused on empowering Africans and African economies. DJ GFlamee created the perfect atmosphere with tunes that highlighted the region and made a Thursday feel more like a Friday.

The highlight of the night, however, was a live Q&A session between Joshua Kissi and Dena White, Tony Chocolonely's head of marketing for the US. Kissi created the concept and took photos of the people in Ghana and the Ivory Coast working to create the chocolate the world adores. Together, they discussed the methods and importance of Tony Chololonely's fight to end slave labor in the cocoa industry. It was illuminating to have the session with the faces of those being honored surrounding us, looking on, being included in something that has long been swept under the rug.

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