Hugh Masekela Hay Festival review

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Ledbury Reporter: Photograph of the Author by , News Editor

HUGH Masekela mixed stand-up comedy with the very best in free jazz and rhythm and blues at Hay Festival last night.

The South African cracked jokes about an imaginary upbringing in Inverness in between songs which talked of a more sobering social reality.

Stimela (Coal Train) paints a particularly depressing tale of forced migration as thousands of Africans make their way to the mineral mines of Johannesburg for a life of desperation.

Another song warns the African bush people of the many dangers that await them in the big cities and those who will spot their naive ways and take advantage.

But Hugh cannot resist making a joke - and hints that the words could apply to a few "country-bumpkins" in Hay-on-Wye should they ever venture east.

Remarkably, the master of brass instruments, is now 75. Not that anyone would know by the way he moves. His dancing soon inspires a mix of ages to make for the aisles and begin their own, albeit less impressive, dance routines.

On a day dominated by right-wing successes in the European elections, his talks on harmony and the removal of fences and borders are warmly welcomed by the sell-out crowd who hang on to his every word.

"Humans have behaved very badly towards one another," he explains. "Let's cut out all this colour thing and all the bull that goes with it." The hundreds watching on are clearly pleased with what they hear.

"It is such a beautiful sight," Hugh tells them. "Every one of you is smiling."

With his music - and jokes - there really was little other option.

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