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A unique Sesotho sound



MASERU -A SINGER, rap producer and songwriter dedicated to promoting an indigenous approach to music, Senei ‘Sneiman’ Makhalanyane, is one of the few musicians who have stood the test of time in Lesotho.

Boasting a thriving musical career, most of Makhalanyane’s songs are uplifting and are oriented to present a glimmer of hope to members of communities from diverse backgrounds and age groups.

He has been part of the Tšepe Movement, which infuses rap with Sesotho traditions of song and modern Afro sounds.

“Ideologically, the Tšepe Movement is about African unity and instilling a revolutionary mind-set away from the neo-colonial thought and neo-imperialism,” he said.

His journey can be traced back from his high school days when he began his journey in the music industry.

“I have been writing music since high school but I started doing music professionally when I joined the Tšepe Sethuamajoe Art Movement in 2013,” Makhalanyane said.

“That’s when I took some time to work on my music.”

Sneiman said he has encountered many changes as music production and consumption evolves over time.

“The past years have brought about drastic changes in the way music is made and distributed.

“The Internet has played a crucial role in how music is consumed around the world, which in turn affected how musicians and artistes are compensated,” he said.

“For a long time, musicians relied heavily on traditional record labels, which made production and distribution of music completely dependent on labels,” he added.

“The label was the beginning and the end of the artiste’s career: deciding everything from marketing budgets to video productions and tour dates, but all have changed as artistes are able to work independently.

“With the advancement of technology an artiste can pop up from nowhere.”

He acknowledges and hails the contribution of artificial intelligence embodied in gadgets that enables both music producers and consumers to holistically enjoy their stake in music.

He said mobile phones also shifted the power dynamics as they became more popular and brought about the growth of music streaming sites.

“Consumers nowadays have access to music content and physical record stores are no longer relevant,” he said.

The growth of social media also played an important role by suddenly opening the floodgates and things became simple to both musicians and listeners, he said.

For Makhalanyane, passion for one’s craft is crucial and breakthrough becomes inevitable.

“I can’t say there is a perfect marketing tool for a musician. We all have our own tools, although some of them might be similar. In music we learn every day through trial and error.”

The majority of musicians in the country usually take time before they reach their prime and this sometimes forces them to give up along the way.

“We don’t have a music industry in Lesotho to be realistic, so we depend on a foreign industry which has its own gatekeepers, standards and rules so as a foreigner it’s not easy to break through,” he said.

Makhalanyane complained that local radio stations, including state owned media, and promoters give preference to foreign artistes.

“We fail to create our own superstars simply because we don’t believe in our own talent. Indigenous African languages seem to have lost favour due to the influence of international languages,” he said.

“Most people believe that since English is an international language, if you use English you might have a broader audience than one who uses Sesotho,” he said. “Reality is that music is a universal language, if you produce good music people will listen regardless of the language you use.”

Makhalanyane expressed the need for the government and all stakeholders to give preference to domestic arts.

“Our government should formulate policies which will limit the importation of foreign content in the entertainment industry. People should be encouraged to buy and support local content even if it might appear to be of low standard, it will improve with time.”

“Remember South Africa started with Lesilo, Bophelo ke Semphego; Nigeria gave us Mr Ibo, Osofia for they had their national pride.”

He advocated for laws that force radio stations and public places such as restaurants, hotels and clubs to pay for the content they use and to source that content locally.

Different artistes are known for their antics that ultimately culminate in being their brand.

For Makhalanyane, his unique dress code is his milestone trademark.

“Hundred percent ‘semate’! I love my Brentwood pants and shiny expensive leather shoes,” he said with a smile.

“I represent the culture of early Southern African mine workers (maweekente), a culture that developed the popular traditional Sesotho music known as Famo and the modern Sesotho and fashion sense,” he said.

“If one watches my 2018 music video, ‘Shoeshine le manothi’, and ‘Sesotho sa morao-rao’, I articulate the modern Sesotho culture wear which is more popular in Southern Africa.”

So far in his music career, Makhalanyane has produced fantastic music with renowned musicians.

Releasing his first solo album, which features top local and international artistes such as Kommanda Obbs, Big Zulu, ’Mapule, Miss P, Towde-Mac wa Murafe and Mosito Sentšo to name a few, was one of the highlights of his music career.

“I believe it is an album ahead of its time.”
Normally artistes love to follow trends such as Niger beats, Trap beats, boombap beats, kwaito beats, piano beats.

“I believe there is nothing wrong with that.”

But with the Maweekente album, Sneiman decided to change things.

“I wanted at least 80 percent of the album to be made of a new sound,” he said, adding: “I decided to be myself and set my own trend by infusing the elements of the music I grew up listening to, that is, Famo, Hip hop, Afro Jazz and kwaito and I managed to do that successfully.”

“Every time I listen to that album I always say to myself, I am proudly a Mosotho, motho le semate, the real Sneiman and I love it. I am in my own lane, there is no traffic,” he said.

At present, Sneiman is working to drop a single and also collaborating with other musicians to produce more music.

He is working on a music video for his next single.

“The song is called ‘Puleng’ and it is fire,” he exclaimed.

His ambition is to contribute to the “holistic growth” of Lesotho’s music identity, which involves making Basotho heritage part of music production.

“I just want our country to have its unique sound. Our listeners think we are there yet but we are not yet there.

“We are still using Niger beats, trap beats, Maskandi beats and so on as if we Basotho do not have our own sound, our own bounce.

“I will never stop until I see that happen. That’s what I am working on for my next project.”

Makhalanyane said he has already assembled a team of producers and one executive producer “and we will be making history together”.

From the wide collection of the songs he has produced so far, there is one song that stands out to him: ‘Puleng’.

“It totally embraces Bosotho elements,” said Makhalanyane, pointing out that it is not easy for talented artistes to break through as production of music is expensive.

“Music production is costly, especially when you are looking for quality.

“You have to pay for a beat, studio time mastering, mixing and for video production.

“It takes time to raise money to pay for such costs, particularly for independent artistes,” he said.

Besides the primary challenge of producing music, musicians are also faced with the hurdle to reap from their labour owing to exploitation.

“The most unfortunate part is that after such hustles, our songs are used for free in the name of promotion.”

Most of the artistes, he said, get paid peanuts “and you won’t complain because they will tell one that the platform they gave you was enough. They say the platform gives you limelight and an opportunity to rub shoulders with the best musicians.”

Calvin Motekase

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MP defies party, backs opposition



MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.

His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.

“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.

This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.

“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”

Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.

“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.

The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.

“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).

“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Inside plot to oust Matekane



THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.

The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.

But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.

Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.

Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.

“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.

Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.

He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.

They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.

“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.

Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.

“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.

Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition



THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.

Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.

He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.

“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.

He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.

“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”

Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.

“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.

Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.

“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”

“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”

The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.

In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.

“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.

Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.

“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”

The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane

  •  Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
  • Corruption
  • Nepotism
  • Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
  • Job losses.
  • Lack of job creation.
  • Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
  • Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
  • Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
  • Arrest of MPs by the police.
  • Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.

Staff Reporter

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