Mohapeloa

Biography

Family portrait c.1955 (source: Ntsiuoa Mohapeloa Private Collection)Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa (1908-1982) was a member of the Bataung clan, born in Molumong in the eastern mountains of Lesotho on 28 March 1908. He was the third generation of a family converted to Christianity in the 19th century by the Swiss-French protestant missionaries from the Société des Missions Evangéliques chez les peuples non-chrétiens á Paris (SMEP), known in English as the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS). Joshua Pulumo was the grandson of Rev Joel Mohapeloane Mohapeloa and his father was also Rev. Mohapeloa. Aside from some years in Johannesburg (1938-1943) J.P. Mohapeloa spent most of his life in Morija in the western lowlands of Lesotho.

Photos

About Morija

Morija is a a village in south-western Lesotho, lying midway between Maseru and Mafeteng. Mohapeloa’s songs refer to towns, villages and natural beauty spots all over Lesotho, but they are most closely associated with the village where he lived for most of his life.

Publications by Mohapeloa

Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika I [African Songs and Extemporary Harmonizations book 1]. Foreword by Akim. L. Sello, Preface by J.P. Mohapeloa. Morija, Lesotho: Morija Sesuto Book Depot. 1935; 1853; 1977; 1983; 1988. [32 songs]

Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika II. Morija, Lesotho: Morija Sesuto Book Depot. 1939; 1945; 1955; 1980; 1996. [32 songs]

Meloli le Lithallere tsa Afrika III. Morija, Lesotho: Morija Sesuto Book Depot. 1947; 1966; 1977; 1983; 1988. [28 songs]

Recordings of Mohapeloa

There are no doubt many private recordings, and a number of competition videos that contain recordings of Mohapeloa’s music. The South African Broadcasting Corporation in Johannesburg has 318 tracks of choirs singing titles by Mohapeloa, recorded between 1962 and 2004. Most of them were made in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and early 90s for the transcription service of SABC Radio Bantu.

The Works of Mohapeloa

Here follows a list of all works by J.P. Mohapeloa, in alphabetical order. Works can be sorted in other ways by clicking the relevant heading below.

See also Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa Critical Edition in Six Volumes on the Home Page for works in Critical Edition order.

Sources of Information on Mohapeloa

Morija Musuem and Archives
Morija Musuem and Archives

Sources of information on Mohapeloa’s music include, most importantly, his own prefaces to the published songbooks (see Mohapeloa: Publications by Mohapeloa), where he explains his approach and aims. Most of these are in Sesotho, but the originals and English translations by Mantoa Smouse can be found below. (See Mohapeloa’s unpublished writings with translations by Mantoa Smouse.) Some early editions of Mohapeloa’s songbooks are available in Morija Museum and Archives, along with a great deal of other useful information about the history and culture of Lesotho.

Mohapeloa Critical Edition

Cover page: Meloli le lithallere tsa Afrika book 1 (1st published 1935)This Critical Edition of Music by Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa collects together for the first time all extant works published or in manuscript, by J.P. Mohapeloa (1908-1982). Download the General Introduction to the Mohapeloa Critical Edition to read about this edition in more detail. See also Mohapeloa: Mohapeloa Biography and African Choral Music: Music’ elsewhere on this website. The bulk of this Edition constitutes the newly prepared and edited vocal scores, but there are also editorial notes and translations, as well as pages of contextual information, including photographs. The total number of previously published songs located to date (2013) is 135. More than 50 extant unpublished songs are also published here for the first time and many more are known about but not yet traced, so the total number of songs may well rise to more than 200 by the time the edition is complete.