Taken from American Songwriter (Feb 09, 2021)
Selema Masekela Shares His Philosophy on Relentless Curiosity on Michael Franti's Stay Human Podcast
by Delia Rowland
Selema Masekela. Courtesy Image
Selema Masekela, the Emmy-nominated producer, journalist and face of ESPN's X-Games, joins the Stay Human Podcast with Michael Franti for a conversation about the importance of staying curious, what it means to embrace his South African roots, his father, surfing and more.
For many, a name is just that: a name. But to Masekela, a name is a representative force which can encapsulate the history of a culture. It's a way to uphold where you are from and be proud of it.
Masekela explains how his name evolved in order to conform to societal norms until last year amidst the Black Lives Matter protesting that he finally decided to reclaim it.
"I just got up and I was like, 'That's it. Today's the day.' It wasn't a thing I was planning or anything. I just woke up and the first thing when I woke up that morning was, like, 'From here on out, it is Selema Mabena Masekela.' And I changed everything on social, called up my representation, etc. and told everybody how it was gonna be and I didn't know the effect that it would have meant, but I'm literally taller. I'm like, I'm taller."
In addition to the relationship Masekela has with his name and the way it shapes his identity is the relationship he had with his father, the South African musician and social activist, Hugh Masekela. Despite his passing in 2018, Selema still finds wisdom in what his father upheld throughout his entire life.
"He would say to people, 'As much as I'm happy that you're here to listen to this music, man, I'd be much happier if when you leave here, you figure out who and how you can lift up others.' You know, that was his shit. He was relentlessly curious," he explains.
Masekela has brought that ideology into his own view on humanity and implemented it into every facet of his life.
On what he believes it means to be human, Masekela echoes his father's sentiment beautifully.
"To me, to be human, is to be relentlessly and endlessly curious. To understand that I am never ever going to have it all figured out. And that, not only is that okay, but that's the point. The point is that you are never going to have it figured out. And coming to that realization took any fake benchmarks that society tells me I'm supposed to be at or have in order to measure my worth and it renders them as non-existent. I just get to be ... For me, being a human means I know that that's what I'm here for. I'm a warrior of compassion. That's my identity. That's what I'm here to give for as long as I'm here to do."
For the rest of the conversation check out the Stay Human Podcast.