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Striking the right notes



MASERU – MUSICIAN Kommanda Obbs struck the right notes with his hit song, ‘Hona Joale. More importantly for many of his fans, the song introduced them to Obbs’ upbringing in the crime-infested Maputsoe, Lesotho’s second largest industrial town after Maseru.
The rest of his songs, whether under the group D2A-Majoe, his own solo-led Tšepe or under his name Kommanda Obbs, continue to display his fascination with life in his rural second home in the Berea district.
In ‘Hona Joale’, the Sesotho rapper, whose songs have penetrated the southern African music market even in countries where Sesotho is not a spoken language, takes a snapshot on the life of illegal gamblers.
Obbs, born Obadiah Chapi, appears in the music video as a leader of a gang involved in a street fight with another group of illegal gamblers.
He sings about how he is so broke that he has started gambling in street corners despite becoming a celebrity who is so famous that thousands of fans enjoy his music on television.
Rich in Sesotho and the use of poetic language, the rapper satirically, and infusing a heavy melancholic feel, opens a window into the life of a broke music celebrity.
The lyrics in many of his songs, with a deep and hoarse voice deliberately mimicking bassos in Basotho songs of traditionally initiated men, exemplify masculinity traits of Basotho men.
He likens himself to a hammer, and in music videos he carries a 16-pound mallet that chisels and cracks open rocks, while in other pictures he is seen waving a knobkerrie.
Keteu! an echo of a ringing bell as it swings and bangs against a metal clapper hanging at its centre, is his other moniker that his followers like to shout when he takes to the stage.
Obbs calls himself “the bell”, usually hung within the church steeple above all other buildings in the village, so that its sound can be heard far and wide.
Obbs says his Sesotho rap music is a reflection of his quest to become a true Pan-African artiste who dares to be different.
He says he started his music journey at a very young age as a result of his childhood memories of the rural life of his grandparents at their Nokong home in Berea where he used to visit with his sister.
“I would find the home fascinating, especially during holidays when village entertainers would play an accordion and a makeshift drum made up of an empty tin, rubber and beer bottle caps,” he said.
It was at a tender age that he realised that he liked music and, like any other child, started singing along and making his own makeshift drums.
As he grew older, Obbs would go with older folks to watch football in Maputsoe, then supporting the home team Roaring Lion FC, and they would sing to cheer the players.
“The music was good and until today is still conjuring up nostalgic memories,” Obbs told thepost.
“I used to watch a lot of football supporting the Maputsoe team called ‘Tau lia rora’ (Roaring Lions), and we would sing,” he says, explaining the foundations of his love for music.
Obbs says his life as a young man in Maputsoe and during family gatherings in his parents’ home in Nokong “made me realise the value of my culture as a Mosotho man”.
“I believe I was blessed enough to have experienced all that, getting to engage with different people.
It is because when we grew up we were not confident enough of who we were and that is why I learned to embrace who I am. That is where Tšepe (the bell) is rooted.”
“This describes how my upbringing brought me to where I am today,” said Obbs, who was born in Maputsoe on May 5, 1986 to ’Mapalesa and the late Tšoloane Chapi.
He says his parents were “not really” into music but they made peace with his choice so they supported him “and they always advised me to make my own money”.
“I was raised by a single mother after my father’s death. From her I learnt a little bit more and on top of that in my circle of friends I have high quality human beings who value respect and loyalty over all other important aspects that money cannot buy.”
Obbs gives credit to his school teachers as “we all know that school shapes who you are and over the years I had some of the greatest teachers who I will always remember”.
“Some of them would always tell my mom that they saw me as an artiste and they were aware of my potential,” says Obbs, who grew up idolising the late American rap great, Tupac Shakur.
“It’s during this era when I fell so hard in love with hip-hop, the music was like a father figure to me, it gave me some of life’s most important lessons.”
He started writing lyrics when he was still in primary school.
“Because I wanted to be different, I chose Sesotho as my music language.”
Although his parents were supportive at the time, he says it was not a walk in the park convincing them that music was the best path to take for him.
Also, when he finally became a well-known musician, many people did not appreciate rap in Sesotho as they were mostly used to American rappers.
“Despite this, I went on my journey because I believed that it was beyond the physical person’s perspective but a spiritual one. My recent album, Moea (Spirit), says it all. I believe music was chosen for me not the other way round.”
He features famo music star, Mahlanya from Seakhi group on the album. Mahlanya’s genre of music is not rap but u’a koetetsa (the Sesotho expression for famo poetry eloquence).
The song featuring Mahlanya is titled ‘Rebellious’ in English but it is wholly sung in Sesotho.
“The message behind the song is about unity and making sure that Basotho realise the quality of music they have. So featuring Mahlanya, just like any other artist, was a way to acknowledge him and to show him that he is recognised.”
Obbs is calling for all music artistes to unite and come up with a working strategy to beat piracy, which he says is wreaking havoc in the industry.
“I honestly don’t get the need of being famous and broke,” he opined.
Obbs believes that listening to a whole range of creatives and quality music by great musicians helps him improve as an individual.
“On my recent album Moea, the most important thing there is the sound, not only the debates of rap,” he says, responding to critics who say that musical instruments dominate the vocals too much.
He advises young aspiring musos not to be discouraged when they encounter problems but work hard “because we live in a depressing era”.
“Don’t lose yourself in the process of competition to avoid what we’re currently dealing with, which is depression. They should love themselves and be kind to themselves more than anything,” he says.
Tšepe, his band, has grown in leaps and bounds since 2016 when they released a gem of Extended Play (EP) titled Keteu.
It is this seven-track EP that he featured well-known artistes such as Zwake.
On top of that, in 2018 he released a self-titled album, Kommanda Obbs. It is a masterpiece of 13 tracks and he featured Bhudaza Mapefane on a song titled Pina and Eme, a famous Nigerian singer, on ‘Hurray’.
Obbs does not see himself retiring from the music industry one day.
“I will die singing, just like Tšepo Tshola.”

He added: “I want to be remembered as someone who is unapologetic about representing who I am regardless of circumstances and options. I want to be remembered for wanting to protect my culture.”

Mpolai Makhetha

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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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