Mohapeloa Critical Edition

About This 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 More than 50 extant unpublished songs are also published here for the first time and many more are known about but not yet traced, so the total number of songs may well rise to more than 200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.

Editing Process

The process of editing Mohapeloa’s involves two stages that overlap: the first is transcribing a tonic solfa score into staff notation, which means typesetting the basics; the second is editing the transcribed score, which involves some degree of interpretation by the editor.


There are 145 works by Mohapeloa now available as PDF scores in staff notation or in staff notation plus tonic solfa - 289 scores altogether, including two versions of almost every work. The works are grouped into six volumes, and you can freely download the short Prefaces that explain what is in each vol. by clicking on the links below. (I or Ia refers to the staff or solfa version of the volume. The Prefaces for each version are essentially the same.)

Sources Used

Four types of sources were used to produce this Critical Edition: published scores of Mohapeloa’s music, manuscript scores, other written documentation, and recordings.


It is impossible to give more than a few pointers here. As a repertoire, this music is the product of one African choral composer and written over a fifty-year time span. It has characteristics that identify it as Sotho, chiefly its reliance on Sesotho texts, its constant references to Basotho culture and history, and its modal lyricism. This places it firmly within the ambit of southern Africa but not necessarily Lesotho itself, for the Basotho diaspora covers large parts of South Africa as well, especially in the Free State and Gauteng. As music, it has taken on different characteristics at different points in his life although all of it was written for entertainment. Some of it has a moral or educational aspect and a fair proportion is religious or spiritual.

Lyrics & Translation

Mohapeloa wrote his own lyrics (texts), occasionally adapting them from sources such as folksongs, hymns, the Bible, or music by other composers. Aside from Coronation March and Freedom in Unity the lyrics are in his home language, Sesotho.