The music of Lesotho is highly influenced by the music of surrounding countries and plays an important part of their culture. Some of the traditional instruments that you can hear in their music include the lekolulo, a type of flute that is typically played by young boys who tend to the herds. The setolo-tolo is a type of jaw harp often played by men. The stringed thomo is a string instrument usually played by women.
Vocal music is especially popular among the Basotho people. Choirs often perform and groups of men and women sing on a number of occasions. Churches are also a common place where choirs and vocal groups gather to perform church songs that are sung in Sesotho.
As far as I can tell, dancing is generally divided by the sexes: men’s dances and women’s dances. I didn’t find any mention of mixed dances. Dances are typically performed as part of life event and community ceremonies: harvest, births, marriages, deaths, Christmas, etc. One of the men’s dances is called mohobelo and features the stamping of feet. The women’s dance is called mokhibo and is danced from a kneeling position while moving the shoulders and arms.
Famo is a Lesothan style of music that features the accordion and a type of oil-can drum. One of the most famous famo musicians is Mosotho Chakela. Because of Lesotho’s proximity to South Africa, many of the styles of music that are popular there are also popular in Lesotho. Musical styles such as reggae, kwaito, jazz, and AfroPop are often heard on the radio.
Every year, the Morija Arts & Cultural Festival takes place in the Morija area of Maseru. The festival began in 1999 and is now broken up into two parts that runs for several days: one in April and the other in October. One part of the festival covers drama, traditional dancing, and poetry while the other part covers artistic and performance groups and concerts of all musical styles that features not only Lesothan musicians but musicians from other (southern) African countries as well.
There weren’t that many artists available on Spotify. But I did find a couple (and some along the way). I did manage to find a few songs that included jazz musician Bhudaza. The songs I found were ones where he was a featured performer.
I did find an album by Famole, which proved to be a really good example of famo music. I actually really like the accordion, so I was happy to listen to this. I thought many of the songs were pretty catchy. I enjoyed it.
I did find many Lesothan hip-hop videos on YouTube, including artists such as Mapanaki, MoNitta, Kommanda Obbs, Missy, ValidEntry (which is more R&B), Turk, and a number of other videos I came across doing a simple search. Many of the videos I sampled through show that their style (flow, instrumentals, lyric topics, etc.) seems to follow the American style of hip-hop. There were several rappers I listened to who rapped in English but there were several in Sesotho as well. Of all the ones I listened to, I was probably drawn to Kommanda Obbs the most. There was something about his melody lines and flow that paired well with the instrumentals behind it. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find an actual album available. Spotify only had the one song that’s available on iTunes. Maybe more will be released later. I waited nearly a year before the Bangaledeshi rock band Arbovirus had an album released through iTunes. Now they have two. So, I will wait.
Up next: the food