Just before my departure to South Africa I met Eugene Skeef, a South African musician, poet and activist, during a Summer Music project for families in Liverpool, and he invited me to attend a cultural event at the centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban in the memory of the most gifted musician to have emerged from South Africa, the pianist and multi-instrumentalist Bheki Mseleku who sadly passed away in 2008.
The sacred event was a culmination of the international Bheki Mseleku Memorial Appeal, a fundraising campaign initiated by the late musician’s friend Eugene to acquire a dignified memorial stone for Mseleku.
The programme included tribute performances by award winning pianist and protégé Nduduzo Makhathini, poet Menzi Maseko, American professor of music Salim Washington, Sufi Don and Aryan Kaganof. Kaya FM presenter and jazz compere Brenda Sisane was the MC.
I had the privilege to be introduced to Bheki’s brother Langa who is an excellent musician in his own right and who also performed as part of the programme. It was a very memorable experience and I feel very lucky having had the opportunity to witness the rich South African jazz heritage live and so close up.