Born in Johannesburg, South Africa Babara was an ardent anti-apartheid activist who helped to bring freedom to her homeland, she has also proved herself a fiery and fearless speaker as well as a pragmatic diplomat.
She is the sister of Hugh Masekela, the famous South African trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer, and singer. In the early 1980s, when the African National Congress’ name started appearing more and more often in the headlines, Masekela became involved in the anti-apartheid struggle.
At the urging of Johnny Makatini, an old acquaintance who was the African National Congress representative at the United Nations, Masekela joined demonstrations in America, gave anti- apartheid speeches, and generally gained a reputation as a serious activist. She was well-entrenched by the time the ANC chose to launch a new weapon called "political protest through the arts." Masekela was asked to head the ANC’s department of Arts and Culture in Lusaka, Zambia in the early 1980’s.In line with support for the economic boycott, she helped to institute a cultural boycott that would prevent dancers, movie stars, musicians, and actors from setting foot in the country.In 1994, in one of the most optimistic periods South Africa had ever known, the country held its first multiracial elections. When the African National Congress swept to victory in the first multiracial elections in1994, Barbara Masekela took her place as a member of the Government of National Unity.In 1995 she was offered the chance to become South Africa's ambassador to France. Masekela took up her duties on January 1, 1995. Her top priority was to increase France's trade with South Africa.