Hugh Masekela – musician, activist and father was exiled from his family and native South Africa for over 30 years as a direct result of Apartheid. Undaunted, he would find musical success in America with the 1968 number one hit, Grazin’ In The Grass, and in 1971 he would father a son, Selema Mabena Masekela. Yet shortly thereafter, Hugh would make the choice to leave America and his son for Africa, in an effort to reconnect to his homeland through music and create awareness about the situation in South Africa. 39 years later, Selema, better known as television personality and ESPN X Games host ’Sal’ Masekela, reflects on his relationship with his father, the accompanying issues of abandonment and addiction, race and self, and the conflicts that influence the choices we make in our lives. Alekesam explores the story of a father exiled from his country, a son exiled from his father, and their mutual attempt to connect to the world, and each other through music.
This film happened by accident; a beautiful, perfectly timed accident for which I will forever be grateful. It began as a simple, four minute promo for my dear friend Sal Masekela’s new album, and emerged as the greatest project of my career, and the most important story I have ever told. The world has known Sal Masekela as the face of action sports for more than fifteen years. But they have not known the man behind the name, Selema Mabena Masekela, whose last name represents not only worldwide musical success and fame, but personal and political struggle. Apartheid, exile, abandonment, addiction, love, and so much more, “Alekesam” tells the remarkable story of a father exiled from his country, and a son exiled from his father. I am indebted to the people in this film for their candor, and for allowing me to be a part of their incredible lives.
About the Film