Pule needs to be celebrated - Bra Hugh
Pule needs to be celebrated - Bra Hugh

Posted in News on Nov 05, 2002.

Recovering drug and alcohol addict Jabu Pule should be celebrated and commended for coming forward instead of being condemned, according to acclaimed SA musician Hugh Masekela.

Speech by Hugh Masekela at a media briefing on Jabu Pule's return from rehab 051102

We are an advisory, referral and fund raising group. Originally, just a little short of five years ago, when I came back from a 44-year-old drug and alcohol addiction recovery I decided that I should go public because I came from a society that was highly addictive and proudly one of the most in denial societies in the world.

I was born in a shebeen myself and I know that South Africa is in the top five in the world in terms of alcohol addiction. This addiction is almost a culture of sport and that I was probably one of the people responsible for leading a lot of people astray in thinking that because Hugh Masekela drinks maybe the thing to do is drink or take drugs.

So when I came out I decided I should not only go public but be aggressive about bringing this dilemma to the front corner of the nation’s conscious. With a few other friends we formed MAAPSA (Musicians and Artists Assistance Program of South Africa) and originally it was just to help people in the arts.

But as time went on after I had gone public, people from other segments of society came to us. As I speak now we have about eight people in recovery. And on an ongoing basis we have that many people in recovery and we have reached a stage we are about to build our own recovery centre and that will make the press look like they were telling the truth all the time!

It is a great tribute and testimony to MAAPSA’s aggressiveness and public persona in that we were able to step in, in Jabu’s case. I know Chiefs team manager Bobby as a friend and I called him one day and told him I hear there’s a little problem here and that can we step in and help and he was the team would be very glad if we could come.

We came in on an advisory basis and there’s been such great synergy between Kaizer Chiefs and us and we are working on an initiative for consolidation with the SA Football Association but there’s also other segments of society that have come to us like the National Ports Authority and the Anglican Dioceses and the Grace Bible Church.

Slowly we are spreading our net to take away the stigma of addiction and help people who do have problems with addiction to come forward and not be ashamed because in this room (press conference) there is not one person who can say that there isn’t an addict in their family of one kind or the other. And if there is no addict in anybody’s family then it’s a pure miracle.

So it is not incumbent upon the football association, Kaizer Chiefs or MAAPSA, I think it is the duty of every South African to admit that the is a problem in this nation and give it a positive outlook and realise that addiction is not a social disease, it’s not a shame but a disease and a disease that only the patient can heal. There is not doctor that can help and there is not medication that can help.

A person that is addicted has to decide that they have come to the end of the road and that they want to change their lives. And at that time when they come they should really be supported and hailed for their bravery.

And I think it is the duty of society and especially the media to try and get into the mindset. I won’t say that the media throws stones but I know that from all the musicians that I learnt from in the music business, they all died from alcohol-related diseases and probably also some of SA’s greatest journalists died from alcohol-related diseases.

There’s a lot of denials in society but it is not necessary for a person to come out and say I have a problem if they don’t want to. But I feel it is important that we change our mindset about addiction and I am very happy that today we congratulate Jabu for his wonderful effort and initiative. I think he has opened the door for many people in sport to be able to come forward and I hope that Jabu will not be subjected to a trial after this.

Jabu is not here to be put on trial. He is here to be celebrated and to be supported because with your support and his positiveness we will be able to help much more people.

Compiled by Joe Luuks

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