Sunday, June 12, 2011


I have a lonely ticket sitting in my room, for the Hugh Masekela concert that was supposed to take place on Saturday. Took the folks out to celebrate the fact that they have now been married almost as long as this country is old. Besides, it was Hugh: only the man that God had in mind when She invented the trumpet. All around, I was poised for a stellar night of serious jazzical entertainment. I had my bourgeoise on, knowwhati'msayin?

But I only got a third of a night of excellent jazzical entertainment. Props to Sauda Simba who frontlined for Hugh- nice selection of standards, and I would be interested to hear her personal take on a few more of the classic tracks. But by 9:30 the songstress was done and the concert that was supposed to start at 8:00 was beginning to look a little flaky. Then the rep from the main sponsors strolled up to the microphone and told us that the concert was cancelled. Haha, we responded. So funny, joke yes?

Not so much, no.

The concert, which was full to capacity with people who had forked over between 50,000 TShs and 100,000 TShs (that's real money, folks), had been summarily cancelled. Just like that, my lifelong dream to see Hugh perform live, my deep pleasure at the thought of listening to him riff while enjoying the cool breeze off the Indian Ocean, the anticipation of treasuring that memory forever- pouf. Up in smoke.

Yeah, I was disappointed. Even worked up a modicum of anger. Some more cynical friends had held off their excitement with the argument that they would believe it when they saw Hugh on the stage. I spent weeks in a fever of anticipation. Guess who had it right? But I wasn't nearly as disappointed as I thought I would be, and finally figured out why: this is Bongo. Everyone expects to get swindled at some point by a service provider. Because it happens. All the time. With this particular producer, I believe I still have a ticket for Freshly Ground hanging about that I did not get a refund for... knowwhati'msayin'?

Anyways, listened yesterday to the EA drivetime show where the DJ was explaining what happened and sort of asking the audience whether it was Hugh's fault or the producer's fault. First up: DJ couldn't pronounce the man's name. How can any working African DJ in East Africa not know who Hugh is?! Second, half the callers thought that Hugh came from Zambia or Uganda or some such nonsense. Made me want to kill myself.

But most importantly: Soweto String Quartet: mishandled. Freshly Ground: mishandled. Hugh Masekela: manhandled. We seem to be earning a reputation here, knowwhati'msayin'? Mh hm.


  1. Pole!

    And don't tell me there were no refunds?

  2. Bongo hili lina mambo kweli kweli. The reputation thing aint new - we've all been let down by uswahili wa namna hiyo plenty of times before. It's a hard earned reputation. It takes persistence to chemsha so spectacularly...

  3. Great post!!! Saw Hugh live at Central park jana..amazing! I took it all in for you.


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