Manganese is a chemical element mined in open mines and widely used in the making of metal alloys and batteries. Mining was extremely dangerous work because of the inhalation that miners were exposed to. Mohapeloa described the song ‘Mankanisi’ in 1978 to David Coplan during an interview, as a “song about men who go to manganese mines and never come back, die there”. Mohapeloa had heard about such mines in Johannesburg from the workers who mined there. His song subsequently became famous on ‘the Reef’, in the popular Saturday evening entertainment programmes called ‘concert parties’, sung by workers ad hoc groups. The Manhattan Brothers, the most famous vocal jazz group in South Africa in the 1940s, made a recording of it.