JOHANNESBURG — South African jazz trumpeter and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela has died at 78.
A family statement issued on Twitter Tuesday says Masekela passed away in Johannesburg after a lengthy battle against prostate cancer.
Masekela learned to play the trumpet at age 14 and gained fame for his bright, lively playing. He went into exile after the 1960 Sharpeville killings in which 69 protesters were shot dead.
In 1968 he scored an international hit with “Grazing in the Grass.” He collaborated with many musicians including Paul Simon and Harry Belafonte.
Many of his compositions were about the struggle for majority rule in South Africa and full democratic rights. Masekela’s composition “Bring Him Back Home” calling for Nelson Mandela to be released from prison became an international anthem for the anti-apartheid movement.