Poly Alumnus Masauko Chipembere ’88 Shares His Story and Music with Poly Community

Poly alumnus Masauko Chipembere Jr. ’88 recently returned to campus to share with the Poly community the unique story of his vocation for the embrace of both music and activism. On Oct. 14, he presented an informative lecture to students from both Poly and Partnership for Success!, as well as a concert on the following school day for Middle and Upper School students. Poly was also graced by the presence of the talented vocalist Naila Porter, who accompanied Masauko for the all-school performance. In his presentation, he opened with a song excerpted from one of his father’s speeches that reiterated the importance of freedom that saw change. Masauko’s father, Henry Masauko Blasius Chipembere, was a well-respected Malawian politician who contributed toward the development of a revolution that fought for a more ethical and African-dominant government. His father strongly believed in the principle that “freedom is meaningless unless people can see change.” This was in reference to Malawi’s history of independence from British colonial rule and its subsequent initial Malawian government, which was no better than the emplaced British authority.

His father led a coup against the serving Malawi government, which was an immediate failure and led to his exile to the United States, where Masauko was born. Unfortunately, Masauko’s father was unable to see a reformed Malawi before his death in 1975. However, his wife, Catherine Chipembere, has held considerable political leadership since her return to Malawi in the 1990s.

Masauko explained that his love for music actually began at Poly, where he formed a band with fellow students and expanded his knowledge and passion for music through the many outlets offered at school. He has shared the stage with some very renowned musicians and bands, such as Stevie Wonder, Queen, and Talib Kweli. His method of connecting messages of social justice with his fusion of funk, Southern African traditional music with jazz, folk, funk, hip-hop, and reggae is especially eclectic. His ability to entertain listeners through his expansive musical ability and still provide a meaningful message is both captivating and strongly indicates the mind of a talented creator.

Masauko also detailed how his political awareness was rather minor until he reached college, where he became vastly more aware of people’s struggles throughout history. This led him toward a path aimed at continuing his parents’ mission of service for the people of Malawi and beyond. While he has an undying enamorment for music, he sees social advocacy as an obligation and a great honor. It was quite motivating for the student audience to see someone with such a willingness to help others without any prospect or desire for gratitude or recognition. Junior Thibeaux H. described Masauko’s work as “inspiring and representative of how creativity can blend with activism to make something beautiful.” Masauko is a remarkable individual who has brought great joy to the people who are lucky enough to meet him and will continue doing so for as long as he can.

Polytechnic School, 1030 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 396-6300 or visit www.polytechnic.org.












Pasadena Now has been published daily since April, 2004 and is among the very oldest continously operated community news websites in the U.S.

Pasadena Now strives to publish a full spectrum of news and information articles in service to the entire community. The publication will remain free to readers and will not erect paywalls.

Pasadena Now strives to provide factual, unbiased reporting. Our opinion section is open to all.