just over a year after legendary trumpeter hugh masekela passed away, a memorial pavilion has been unveiled in his honor. designed by sir david adjaye, the precast concrete structure is located in johannesburg’s westpark cemetery and serves as a place to gather, reflect, and celebrate the life of masekela — known as the ‘father of south african jazz’. ‘african monuments are a place of gathering and reflection, they help us edify the significance of our ancestors, our heritage and culture,’ explains adjaye, who was born in ghana. ‘monuments act as a reminder of our duty in the present to honor the past, they spur us to make a better future’.

david adjaye hugh masekela
all images by alexi portokallis



the memorial pavilion, spearheaded by the masekela family, is the result of a partnership between ravi naidoo, of the design indaba trust and adjaye associates who together, worked with south african industry experts and stakeholders including johannesburg city parks. according to the design team, the pavilion is inspired by african burial ritual and practices where dignified structures are created to host family and visitors. rather than erecting objects like headstones, these structures serve as gathering places to remember and connect with those who have departed the physical realm.

david adjaye hugh masekela



the pavilion’s perforated roof mimics local flora, while shadows from the canopies of the surrounding foliage are reflected across the pavilion’s floor. the memorial pavilion structure or, lekgotla (‘gathering place’ in sotho, one of south africa’s 11 languages) also houses a variety of specially selected stones, representing different parts of the continent hugh masekela spent time in while in exile. the base of the pavilion is inscribed with a statement by the masekela family.

david adjaye hugh masekela



‘our family could not be more honored to have such an iconic son of the soil, sir david adjaye design this immutable memorial pavilion which beautifully reflects hugh’s openness and his love of africa,’ says ambassador barbara masekela, representing the masekela family and clan. ‘a true pan-africanist, we are touched that the design is by a world-renowned architect born in ghana, another part of our beautiful continent hugh regarded as home.’

david adjaye hugh masekela



project info:


name: hugh masekela memorial pavilion
location: westpark cemetery, beyers naude drive, johannesburg, south africa
architect: adjaye associates
in partnership with: design indaba