Othello’s Hosts Nigerian Jazz Musicians in Tribute to Hugh Masekela


Nseobong Okon-Ekong

Approaching the venue from any side of the street that evening, there was an unmistakable flurry of activities at a particular address on Akin-Olugbade at Victoria Island-Lagos where Nigeria’s leading jazz musicians joined the world in remembering the legacy of the international jazz icon, music legend and father of South African jazz, Hugh Masekela who passed last January 23.

Smartly dressed hostesses were on hand to welcome guests to a reverberating tribute concert at Othello’s. The blast of sounds from different wind instruments signalled the promising entertainment on offer.
The event was powered by a leading marketing and activations company, Inspiro Productions, organisers of the annual Lagos International Jazz Festival. Othello’s was aglow with tasteful decorations with images of the music legend dotting the space.

Masekela, one of Africa’s revered socially-committed artistes was honoured in an event with the theme “White and Black and Baddest” was a tribute session as part of Othello’s monthly hangout event and the performances. The show kicked-off with Rapha the comedian compering the event which turned out as a wonderful collage of performances, speeches and experiences shared by various people who had inadvertently been influenced by Hugh Masekela. The live performances were punctuated with tributes to the great man, his music and legacy.

Jazz impresario and CEO, Inspiro Productions, Ayoola Shadare spoke glowingly about his encounter with “Bra Hugh” and sustained contact over the years and also announced the dedication of the Lagos International Jazz Festival in April 2018 to Hugh Masekela.

On his part, Dede Mabiaku, actor-musician and protégé of Afrobeat founder Fela Kuti spoke passionately of how over the years Hugh Masekela had become a father to him; his connection and many visits to Nigeria. Others like Biodun Batik spoke along the same lines as well-meaning tributes poured.

On the band stand that night were jazz Master and Director of The SPAN Academy of Jazz and Contemporary Music, Bright Gain; Top Jazz Trumpeter & Educationist, Biodun Batik, Ace Jazz Trumpeter, Taiwo Clegg, Multi-instrumentalist and performer Seun Olota; Femi Slide the Afrojazz/Highlife Trombonist, a leading jazz trumpeter Kwitee, fast rising saxophonist Darex and a host of others. These musicians gave so much verve to the live sessions; free-styling and delivering impressive solo performance on their various instruments. Their presentation of Masekela’s ‘Thanayi’ got a standing ovation. But when they did an enactment of ‘Patapata’, the team of ladies from the South African High Commission got up to dance and the evening of leisure entered another level of enjoyment.

Amongst the many dignitaries and guests at the event included His Excellency the German Consul General Ingo Herbert, a delegation from South Africa led by their Vice Consul Political Mr. Mbedzi and representing Honourable Steve Ayorinde, the Lagos Commissioner of Tourism, Arts & Culture was Mr. Frank Legunsen. Other guests were the President of the Performing Musicians Employers’ Association Of Nigeria and his wife Mr. and Mrs Pretty Okafor, Jazzman Olofin, son of Highlife legend Bayode Olaiya representing his father Dr. Victor Olaiya, Thisday Glitterati Editor Nseobong Okon-Ekong, Muyiwa Moyela, Contributor for Forbes Africa, Media consultant and former GM, Metro FM, Cordelia Okpei and Meg Doris, leading fashion designer amongst others.

The tribute session rounded off with a raffle draw and the prizes were for guests to win Othello’s ‘Five Days of Valentine’ package of a three-course dinner for a couple during the valentine period. Five lucky winners emerged from the exercise. Othello’s later hosted the guests at an after party in its prestigious indoor lounge till the early hours of the morning.