Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s world class legendary musician received a special Labour Media Award at the cultural event of Cosatu’s 10th national congress at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. The award was presented to Masekela for his song “Stimela” which tells about story about migrant workers from neighbouring countries who travel on the coal train to work on South Africa’s mines. The song, a popular favourite and a regular on Masekela’s concert repertoire is heart-wrenching as it tells about the hardships and conditions that these mineworkers faced on the mines, living in flea-ridden compounds – especially during the Apartheid era.
In receiving the award he told the 3000 strong audience that he had not written the song but it was really a reflection of his experience and learning about the mine workers’ plight by fraternising with them in shebeens and hostels in places where he lived around Gauteng. He also made an impassioned plea to Cosatu to play a role in organising around music and cultural activities to revive and preserve our valuable musical heritage which was being eroded by Western commercial music. He expressed concern about the cultural taste and habits of our youth.
The labour media awards was initiated by Workers’ World Media Productions, a non-profit labour media production house based in Cape Town and Johannesburg to recognise those who have made valuable contributions to labour media and art and to promote labour in the media.