Lesotho’s Independence Day

When I was growing up, Independence Day was quite a big deal in and around Maseru, Lesotho. Besides it being a public holiday, it carried with it the promise of festivities which usually occurred at our national stadium. A lot has changed since then, and some would claim for the worse. But instead of writing about another factory workers’ strike, yet another double-digit salary hike for ministers, or a former convict being appointed to public office, I would rather focus on other things — like music for instance. Music is central to our existence as Basotho, and even though we too are victims of the usual cacophony of western sounds dominating our airwaves (with a dip of Kwaito and house, courtesy of our South African neighbours), there are genres which have managed to fare well commercially. Below is a collection of videos sourced from youtube. Some of them are quite dated — our artists seem not to hold Internet presence in high regard at all.

Sankomota’s ‘Stop the war’. Arguably still the best musical export from Lesotho by far, even though most of the members are no more:

(Honorary mentions: Fatere, Budhaza and Qiloane.)

After a long time bubbling in Lesotho’s underground hip-hop scene, Dunamis managed to rise above and get some acclaim with the release of this video for ‘Mastered Seed’ which received wide rotation on Channel O and SABC1:

(Honorary mentions: Papa Zee, Kommanda Obbs, Stlofa and Skebza.)

Manka le Phallang are but one in a myriad of famo musicians. Along with the likes of Puseletso Seema, Tau ea Mats’ekha, and Apollo Ntabanyane, they were among the first to popularise the genre. This is their ‘Ea nyoloha khanyapa’:

(Honorary mentions: Famole (RIP), Mahlanya and Chakela.)

And to round up: Lefate. They’ve split, but not before releasing this video from their album Ha le lapa lea solla. They refer(ed) to their music as ‘Mokorotlo’, an ode to the Basotho hat which resembles the hill of Qiloane. Their ‘Life’s like a lie’:

(Honorary mentions: Manyofi and Mthibo.)


3 thoughts on “Lesotho’s Independence Day

  1. Nice work @ Ts’eliso Monaheng, I always thought that one cannot mention Lesotho , without mentioning the Mountain Poet Ntate Tsepho in the same breath 🙂 You forgot to include one person though in my opinion , I’ll give you a clue – a kid on his album Error Era who started his one track with “From a small town in Maseru…”

  2. Hi Busi,

    Thank you for check this out. Incidentally, I am working on a ten-year anniversary piece for the Hymphatic Thabs album you mentioned. Do keep an eye on my blog if you are interested in what I have to say, and what I’ve gathered from chatting to him. It’ll probably be up in about three weeks.

  3. Nice work with that peiece my friend. I also feel that the internet is a resource that our artists are not waking up sooner than they should. If Sankomota could become a soundtrack to such a wide audience in the pre-internet era, what excuse do present day artists have for their failulre to command more attention? Without buying face, you are the only artist that knows this public secret that the internet is a door of posibilities. Keep it up. I like the video selection very much and not just because I hail from Berea, the earliest recordings of Famo that laid the foundation for the genre come from my territory. Ntate Phau-manyetse, you mentioned Apollo, Manka le Phallang, we build it! Though I have to concede that today the south is rulling it.

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