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A unique Sesotho sound

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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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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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