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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 July, 2003, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Masekela's message for 'addictive' SA
Hugh Masekela
Masekela went into rehabilitation six years ago
One of the biggest names in world music - trumpeter Hugh Masekela - has said the message behind his latest album Time is to help the fight against drug and alcohol addiction in his native South Africa.

Masekela himself is a recovering addict, having gone into rehabilitation six years ago before establishing an organisation to help those with similar problems in his homeland.

And he told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme that he felt a duty to help others suffering from the same problems.

"I come from a community that was the source of the music that I try to make. If I didn't refer to them and refer to the quality of their lives - before and after we were free - I'd be ungrateful," Masekela said.

"South Africa is probably one of the most addicted countries in the world - we are a very addictive society.

"How we got into it is very unfortunate because until 1961 the native peoples of South Africa were not allowed to drink.

"But that made people drink even more."

'Addictive' culture

Masekela, who often used his music to carry a political message during the apartheid era, added that by the time black South Africans had won political freedom drinking had become endemic to the country's society.

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Masekela says drinking is endemic to South Africa's culture
"When we got free we forgot it was all over because now it had become a culture," he stated.

"I myself am a recovering addict and alcoholic. Six years ago I came to England, took up counselling, and learned the psychology of addiction."

And Masekela added the message of the latest release was in part based on the lessons he had learned in England.

"This album, Time, is one of the most popular albums in South Africa - it's getting to the minds of a lot of people," he said.

Masekela made his name in America in the 1960s, and since then has released 30 albums and toured the world.

But he said that for most of that time he had little confidence with the trumpet without using some sort of drug.

"For 44 years, I felt that I couldn't play better unless I'd had at least a spliff," he acknowledged.

"I was always a good musician - it's how it affects your life and how it affects how you affect people when you're high."

Now he was clean, he said, he wanted music to be his only addiction.

"When you're an addict, what you drink or what you take is not the problem," Masekela said.

"With an instrument it's the same thing - if you don't practise it you won't be able to get the music out of it."


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